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DEC Announces Opening Dates for Early Bear Hunting Seasons

September 08, 2020   04:45 p.m.
    Press Release from New York State DEC:

    DEC Announces Opening of Early Bear Hunting Seasons

    Bear Hunting Season Opens Sept. 12 in Portions of Southeastern New York,
    Sept. 19 in Northern New York

    New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)
    Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced that black bear hunting seasons
    open this weekend in the southeastern part of the state and next weekend in the
    north country.

    "Early black bear hunting seasons are an important tool to manage bear
    populations and provide a great opportunity for hunters to enjoy a late summer
    outing," said Commissioner Seggos. "Bears are feeding heavily this time of year,
    gorging on wild nuts, berries, apples, and frequently in corn fields, as well.
    Hunters can increase their odds of finding a bear by keying in on concentrated
    natural food sources."

    In southeastern New York, the early bear season runs from Sept. 12 to Sept. 27
    in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 3A, 3C, 3H, 3J, 3K, 3M, 3P, 3R, 4P, 4R,
    and 4W. The early bowhunting season for bears will open in all of the Southern
    Zone on Oct. 1, followed by the regular firearms season beginning Nov. 21.

    In northern New York, the early bear season runs from Sept. 19 to Oct. 16 in
    WMUs 5A, 5C, 5F, 5G, 5H, 5J, 6C, 6F, 6H, and 6J. Bowhunting season for bears
    also begins on Sept. 19 in the other Northern Zone units (WMUs 6A, 6G, 6K, and
    6N). Muzzleloader season opens in all northern WMUs on Oct. 17, followed by
    the regular firearms season for bears on Oct. 24.

    New this year, DEC has added WMU 4W to the early bear season in the
    Southern Zone. The bear population in 4W has been growing and additional
    bear harvest is necessary to meet the management objective of maintaining a
    moderate bear population density in the unit. To view all WMU locations and
    boundaries, visit DEC's Wildlife Management Units.

    During the early season, bear hunters may use a bow (with appropriate
    bowhunting eligibility), crossbow, muzzleloader, handgun, shotgun, or rifle
    (where allowed). Because of the likelihood of warm weather, bear hunters should
    be prepared to skin and cool harvested bears as soon as possible to protect the
    quality of the meat. Hunters may opt to skin and quarter the bear in the field, then
    pack out the meat in game bags to a waiting cooler of ice. From roasts, stews,
    burgers, and sausage to barbequed ribs, bear meat makes excellent table fare.
    Hunters may also consider rendering bear fat into grease or lard, which is a great
    oil for cooking or baking and can be used to waterproof leather or to lubricate
    patches for muzzleloading.

    Hunters are required to report their bear harvest within seven days, and DEC
    also encourages hunters to submit a premolar tooth and the scaled-dressed
    weights of harvested bears. DEC uses teeth to determine the bear's age and
    weight to monitor physical condition. This data helps DEC biologists monitor bear
    population dynamics and trends. Hunters who report their harvest and submit a
    premolar tooth from the bear are eligible to receive a commemorative NYS Black
    Bear Management Cooperator Patch.

    DEC regulates black bear hunting to manage populations toward levels that are
    acceptable to the public. Information about black bear hunting in New York,
    including season dates regulations, is available on DEC's website. Additionally,
    DEC's booklet Hunting the Black Bear in New York (PDF), includes tips on bear
    hunting and proper care of harvested bears.