MONTPELIER, Vt. – The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department reports that bear hunters in Vermont had a safe and successful hunting season in 2016. Preliminary numbers show that hunters took 697 black bears during the 81days of the two-part early and late bear seasons. There also were no hunting-related shooting incidents.
This is higher than the past 10-year average of 520 bears being taken, but it is consistent with the goal of stabilizing the bear population to within 4,500 to 6,000 bears, according to Fish & Wildlife Department bear biologist Forrest Hammond.
In 2016, hunters took a majority of the bears, 547, in the early season and only 150 in the late bear season, which overlaps with the November deer season. Many large bears were reported with 21 weighing over 300 pounds and several over 400 pounds.
In the previous year, hunters took nearly equal numbers of bears in the early and late seasons.
Hammond noted that participation in the early bear season has remained high with large numbers of hunters choosing to purchase a $5 early season bear tag. “Between an abundant population, a long hunting season and the potential of harvesting delicious and nutritious bear meat, Vermonters and visitors are becoming increasingly interested in hunting this big game animal,” said Hammond.
Bear hunters continue to provide information that is valuable for managing the species including bringing their bear into one of 150 game check stations and by completing hunter effort surveys. Beginning in 2017, hunters must also submit a small tooth from their bear that will provide information on the age of the animal.