Bear harvest numbers were strong again this year, Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens recently announced in a media release. In 2010, bear hunters took more than 1,060 bears in the state.
Statewide, hunters took 1,064 black bears this past fall, similar to harvest levels of 2005-2007.
While overall population size plays a large role in harvest totals, annual variations in take are also strongly influenced by environmental factors that affect bear activity and hunting pressure such as natural food availability and snow fall.
In the Southeastern bear hunting area, hunters took 401 bears, with roughly half of the harvest occurring during the bowhunting season and half during the regular firearms hunting season. In the Central- Western bear hunting area, hunters took 142 bears, with bowhunters responsible for about 65 percent of the harvest. Harvest in both areas was down approximately 20 percent from 2009.
In the Adirondack bear hunting area, the take of 521 bears was down approximately 35 percent from 2009, but is consistent with the long-term average for that area. Bear harvest in the Adirondacks seems heavily influenced by variations in key food resources, and this year’s harvest follows those trends.
According to the release, in years when soft mast (apple, cherry, raspberry) is abundant,bear harvest during the early season tends to decrease.
Cherry and raspberry were widely available in September and October, and bear take during the 2010 early season dropped about mately 40 percent from 2009, which was a year with a poor soft mast crop and high early season bear harvest.
Conversely, in years when beech nuts are abundant, bear take tends to increase during the regular season.