Friday, February 3rd, 2023
Friday, February 3rd, 2023

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Adirondack region’s early bear take up sharply

Ray Brook, N.Y. – Bear hunters in the Adirondack region had one
of their best early seasons in history, according to preliminary
DEC harvest figures.

Harvest data from successful bear hunters during the region’s
Sept. 19-Oct. 16 early season point to a total harvest that will
likely top 500, DEC biologists said.

That would be the first time since 2003 and only the second time
in the region’s history that the early bear harvest had reached
500.

“For the early season alone, we had a reported harvest of 317
bears,” DEC Region 5 wildlife biologist Ed Reed said. “Based on our
reporting rate, I would say our total harvest will be around 500
bears. That’s a big increase from last year and the biggest
early-season take since 2003.”

The region’s early-season bear take last year was just 85. The
early bear take fluctuates widely based on a variety of factors,
including food availability.

In 2003, Adirondack region hunters took 730 bruins during the
early season en route to a record overall harvest of 1,370. That
number was nearly double the previous record harvest of 745 set in
1989.

DEC officials stopped short of predicting a huge harvest of
bears in the Adirondacks this season. In the past, big early-season
harvest figures have led to lower takes during the regular season,
and a slow early season often meant more bears would be harvested
during the remaining bear-hunting seasons.

“But it’s been a great year for bear hunters already,”_said
DEC_Region 6 wildlife biologist Steve Heerkens. “They’ve taken a
good number of bears. We had a lot of nuisance complaints – even
some during the season – and when the bears are exposing themselves
like that, it makes them vulnerable to hunting.”

In addition, there were several incidents of illegal bear kills
over bait in the Adirondacks this fall. Those bruins are not
counted in DEC’s harvest figures, Farquhar said.

Reed said many of the nuisance bear complaints came in the Inlet
and Speculator areas of Hamilton County, which is traditionally a
leader in harvest figures. Lewis and St. Lawrence counties this
year, however, were the top bear producers through the early
season.

“In and around the Croghan area of Lewis County, where there are
agricultural areas, hunters were able to find the bear sign and get
on them,”_Heerkens said.

An abundance of acorns in much of the Adirondacks also meant
bruins had plenty of available food, and that may keep pregnant
females from going into their den early. As a result, they’ll be
available to hunters during the regular firearms deer and bear
season, when the bulk of the bruins are generally taken.

Reed, however, says more and more hunters are specifically
targeting bears.

“There seems to be a lot of hunters from out of the area – from
other parts of the state and even from other states – who are
interested in hunting bears,” Reed said. “They’re calling us and
asking where to go, what to look for.”

DEC_officials didn’t have any information a this point on
trophy-sized bears, but one was taken in the Long Lake areas of
Hamilton County that had a live weight of 503 pounds. Another,
killed in the southern part of the Adirondack range, weighed 394
pounds field dressed, which would give the bear a live weight of
about 465 pounds. Heerkens said he’s aware, also, of an road-killed
bruin in Delaware County in the Catskill range that had a live
weight of 585 pounds.

Bear hunting in the Adirondack range continues through Dec. 6
for firearms hunters.

New York bear hunters bagged 1,295 bruins last year – 582 in the
Adirondacks, 520 in the Catskills and 193 in the Allegany range.
The Catskill and Allegany harvests were new records.

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