DEC planning to expand bear hunting in Catskills

Albany — The hunting season for black bears in the Catskill Region over the next 10 years will be significantly expanded under a new management plan announced last week by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).  The plan outlines the principles and methods used to monitor and manage black bear populations in New York and provides strategic guidance for the DEC’s activities.  The plan includes several proposed hunting rule changes.
“After careful consideration of thousands of public comments, the strategies outlined in the Black Bear Management Plan seek to achieve and maintain bear population levels that are acceptable to the public while providing sustainable opportunity for New York’s big game hunters,” said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens in a press release.  “The plan also addresses public partnerships to reduce human-bear conflicts.”

Plan is online
The final Black Bear Management Plan for New York State, 2014-2024 is available at www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7215.html.  Key elements of the final plan include the scientific monitoring of bear populations; continued use of stakeholders to assess bear impacts and identify population trend objectives; recommendations to expand areas open to bear hunting throughout upstate New York and to increase hunting opportunities in portions of southeastern New York. The plan emphasizes DEC’s integrated approach to reduce negative black bear impacts by increasing public awareness of its role in preventing human-bear conflicts, by addressing individual incidents of bear damage, and by reducing bear populations where necessary.
To begin implementing the new bear plan, DEC proposed rule changes that would establish bear hunting seasons in all of upstate New York, create a supplemental early firearms season for bears in the Catskills and Western Hudson Valley area, and provide a uniform start for bow hunting and early bear seasons in the Northern Zone.  Specifically the proposed rule would:
Allow bear hunting in WMUs 4A, 4B, 4J, 5R, 6P, 6R, 6S, 7A, 7F, 7H, 7J, 8A, 8C, 8F, 8G, 9A, and 9F during the Southern Zone early and late bow hunting seasons, regular firearms season, and late muzzle loading season.

More changes
Create a supplemental fire­arms bear season for 16 days beginning the first Saturday after Labor Day (Sept. 6 – Sept. 21, 2014) in WMUs 3A, 3C, 3H, 3K, 3J, 3M, 3P, 3R, 4P, and 4R;
Begin the Northern Zone bow hunting season for bears on the same day as the early bear season, the first Saturday after the second Monday in September (second Saturday after Labor Day).
DEC will accept written public comment on the proposed hunting rule changes through July 7.  The rulemaking documents can be seen on the DEC website at www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/propregulations.html.