CONCORD, NH — The New Hampshire bear hunting season, which started September 1, is off to an average start in terms of harvest rate. The statewide harvest to date is estimated at 300 bears, but numbers are preliminary at this early point in the season. Despite low food abundance this summer, many critical fall bear foods have recently become available due to modest or above-average production.
“We are seeing relatively strong crops of acorns, apples, cherries and blackberries in some regions of the state, which are providing more ample food sources for bears and abundant hunting opportunity,” said Andrew Timmins, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department’s Bear Project Leader. “Bear harvests tend to be high in poor food years; they tend to moderate with increasing food abundance.”
Timmins noted that bear hunters hitting the woods this fall are being asked to refrain from taking bears wearing radio collars. While the take of collared bears is legal, these bears have particular value to the Department, which prompts the request. “Collared bears are used by the Department to monitor productivity and reproductive success, habitat use, denning phenology and social behavior,” said Timmins. “There have been a number of bear studies in New Hampshire when the random harvest of collared bears was desirable. However, the objectives of this study differ, and these radioed animals become increasingly important to our management interests the longer they survive and provide annual data.”
According to Timmins, the number of collared bears in New Hampshire is very low. There are currently only 10 collared bears out of an estimated 6,100 bears in the state. “A considerable amount of time and effort is invested in monitoring a study population of 10-12 bears, and their long-term survival is important to our understanding of bears; therefore we hope hunters will pass on taking collared bears,” said Timmins. “Given the strong statewide bear population and our relatively long bear season, we hope this will be seen as a reasonable request and greatly appreciate hunter consideration.”
Timmins reiterates that there is no law against the taking of a collared bear and that in the event a collared animal is taken, the Fish and Game Department is very interested in documenting any such take during the registration process, and in recovering the telemetry collar.
For more information on bear hunting in New Hampshire, visit www.huntnh.com/hunting/bear.html.