DEC Announces 2020 Bear Harvest Totals

New York State bear hunters took 1,723 black bears during the 2020 hunting seasons, Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today.

“Black bears continue to prosper in New York’s excellent bear habitat,” said Commissioner Seggos. “Bear hunting seasons allow DEC wildlife managers to collect valuable information that our scientists use to help maintain healthy bear populations. And successful bear hunters help maintain populations at sustainable levels and are rewarded with outstanding food for their families and friends.”

Hunters took an estimated 1,152 bears in the Southern Zone, comparable to the record set in 2019, and 11 percent greater than the recent five-year average. While take in the regular season was lower than last year, hunters had record success during the early and bow seasons.

In the Northern Zone, hunters harvested an estimated 571 bears-the highest number since 2015. A productive early season in the Northern Zone is generally followed by a relatively low regular season harvest, with the reverse anticipated in the year to come. The 2020 bear harvest followed this pattern, with an early season harvest that increased four-fold from 2019, and a regular season harvest that dropped approximately 25 percent from 2019 numbers.

Notable Numbers

3: the number of bears harvested per 10 square miles in Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) 3K, which includes southern Sullivan County and a portion of Orange County. WMU 3K had the greatest bear harvest density of any unit, but the town of Monroe in Orange County yielded 4.5 bears for every 10 square miles.

116: the greatest number of bears reported taken on any one day was recorded on September 12, the opening day of the early bear season in the Southern Zone.

550 pounds: the heaviest dressed-weight bear reported to DEC in 2020, taken in the town of Greenville, Orange County. Scaled weights of dressed bears were submitted for 26 percent of bears taken in 2020.

13: the number of tagged bears reported in the 2020 harvest. These 13 bears included two bears originally tagged in Pennsylvania and one from New Jersey. The remainder were originally tagged in New York for a variety of reasons, including research, nuisance response, relocated urban bears, or released rehabilitated bears.

911: the number of hunter-killed bears from which DEC collected teeth for age analysis in 2020. Hunters who reported their harvest and submitted a tooth for age analysis will receive a 2020 Black Bear Management Coordinator Patch. Results of the age analysis are expected to be available later this year.

DEC’s harvest estimates rely on successful hunters reporting their harvest. For more information on game harvest reporting, visit DEC’s website.