Black bear hunting opportunities have expanded this year as a result of regulation changes adopted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Commissioner Joe Martens announced today.
“Under Governor Cuomo’s NY Open for Fishing and Hunting initiative, New York is working to increase hunting opportunities for sportsmen and sportswomen,” Commissioner Martens said. “With these changes, DEC is implementing strategies of the recently adopted Black Bear Management Plan.”
More importantly, DEC deemed the changes necessary to limit population growth and range expansion by black bears in New York. Bears are a tremendous resource in New York, but they can have negative impacts too, through damage to camps, crops, homes and other property. In extreme cases they are a serious threat to public safety. DEC’s bear plan fosters a comprehensive approach to reduce negative black bear impacts by increasing public awareness of its role in preventing human-bear conflicts, addressing individual incidents of bear damage and reducing bear populations where necessary.
The adopted season changes are as follows:
establish bear hunting seasons in all of upstate New York (all counties north of New York City);
create a special early firearms season (Sept. 6 – Sept. 21) for bears in specific Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) in the Catskills and western Hudson Valley region; and
provide a uniform start date (Sept. 13) for bowhunting and early firearms bear season in the Northern Zone.
After careful consideration of public comments received on the draft bear plan last winter and on the proposed regulations this summer, DEC adopted the hunting season changes in accordance with the final Black Bear Management Plan. The purpose of the changes is to maintain bear population levels that are acceptable to the public while providing sustainable opportunity for New York’s big game hunters.
The NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative is an effort to improve recreational opportunities for sportsmen and women and to boost tourism activities throughout the state. This initiative includes streamlining fishing and hunting licenses, reducing license fees, improving access for fishing and increasing hunting opportunities in New York State.
In support of this initiative, this year’s budget includes $6 million in NY Works funding to support creating 50 new land and water access projects to connect hunters, anglers, bird watchers and others who enjoy the outdoors to more than 380,000 acres of existing state and easement lands that have not reached their full potential. These 50 new access projects include building new boat launches, installing new hunting blinds and building new trails and parking areas. In addition, the 2014-15 budget includes $4 million to repair the state’s fish hatcheries; and renews and allows expanded use of crossbows for hunting in New York State.
This year’s budget also reduces short-term fishing licenses fees; increases the number of authorized statewide free fishing days to eight from two; authorizes DEC to offer 10 days of promotional prices for hunting, fishing and trapping licenses; and authorizes free Adventure Plates for new lifetime license holders, discounted Adventure Plates for existing lifetime license holders and regular fee Adventure Plates for annual license holders.
The full text of the adopted regulations and a summary of public comments on this rulemaking are available on DEC’s website. The resulting 2014 bear hunting seasons can also be found on DEC’s website.
The final Black Bear Management Plan for New York State, 2014-2024 is available on DEC’s website. 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.