NY To Open More Land To Bear Hunting?

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens today announced proposed changes that would open new areas east of the Hudson River to black bear hunting and establish uniform bear hunting season dates across the Southern Zone beginning in the 2011 hunting season.

"The proposed adjustments to bear hunting in the Southern bear range are part of our continuing effort to better manage bear populations and provide excellent hunting opportunities in New York State," Commissioner Martens said. "Black bears are thriving in New York and have expanded their range considerably in recent years. Increasing opportunities for bear hunting in the Southern Zone will help alleviate agricultural and homeowner conflicts with bears, provide recreational opportunity, and facilitate wise use of bear meat and hides."

The specific changes proposed for the Southern bear range would:

Open Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 3F, 3G, 3N, 3R, 3S, 4C, 4K, 4L, 4T, 4U, 4Y, 4Z, 5S and 5T to black bear hunting for the archery, regular and muzzleloading seasons. This would include all of Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Columbia, Rensselaer, and Washington counties, and the portion of Rockland that was not already open for black bear hunting. Season dates for these units will be the same as those in place for adjacent units already open to bear hunting in the Southern bear range.

Establish an earlier start to the existing regular black bear season in wildlife management units in parts of central and western New York by removing the 7-day lag that has previously existed between the start of the regular deer season and the regular bear season in this portion of New York. This will provide a uniform bear hunting season framework for all bear hunting in the Southern Zone.

Bear hunting is the only viable and cost effective tool for managing bear numbers on a landscape scale. However, DEC also encourages public understanding and tolerance of bears through various educational efforts. Additional information about black bears is available at www.dec.ny.gov/animals/6960.html including tips for living with bears. DEC has also helped produce and distribute a DVD, "Living with Black Bears in New York," which is available in most schools and public libraries throughout the state.

To see more detailed descriptions of the proposal, including instructions for providing comments, go to he DEC website. The proposed rulemaking can also be viewed in detail in the May 18, 2011 publication of the New York State Register.

DEC will be accepting public comments on the proposal through July 5, 2011. A map of the proposed area expansion is attached.