ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Every year, hunting season in New York is a way to control and track the population numbers of some animals around the state. 2022’s bear season is one of those – and on Tuesday, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) posted the year’s numbers.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said that an estimated 1,318 black bears had been harvested during the 2022 hunting season. That’s at least 21% of the between 6,000 and 8,000 black bears the DEC estimates to currently live in New York – but if that number sounds dangerously high, think again.

“New York’s black bear populations remain robust, particularly in the Catskill and Adirondack regions,” said Seggos in Tuesday’s announcement. “Regulated bear hunting is a necessary tool for population management, especially with numbers increasing in recent years. I’m pleased to see hunters across the state logged another successful and safe bear hunting season.”

The DEC estimates 458 bears harvested in the state’s northern hunting zone, and 860 in the southern zone (with a dividing line that runs through Saratoga Springs, Johnstown and Rome). Around 14% more bears were harvested on the north end of that line over last year (403), and 9% fewer in the south (943); leading to a total bear harvest clocking in around 10% below the five-year average.

The majority of those bears were harvested in the Catskills – which is typical. The Catskill region contains an estimated 30-35% of the state’s black bear population, spread across about 600,000 acres. The Adirondack Park contains the greatest number of bears of any region in New York, at between 50-60% of the statewide total, but has a larger territory within the park’s 6 million acres of space.

Parts of Greene, Schoharie, Delaware and Ulster counties make up hunting region WMU 4R, which saw the largest number of bears harvested per 100 square miles. The largest number within 10 square miles goes to the town of Port Jervis, in Orange County. The community had the greatest bear harvest density of any town in the state, at 11.8 per 10 square miles.

Black bear harvests allow the DEC to gather data. Information on bear locations is gathered from harvest reports, and bears are examined by DEC staff and taxidermists. 612 of last year’s bears had teeth collected to determine age. This fall, hunters who reported their harvests to the DEC will receive a letter and a black bear management coordinator patch.

black bear management new york
(Photo: NYSDEC)

The DEC tracks bear population by region. Areas of the state are judged based on whether the current bear population is in need of reduction, which currently applies to some parts of central New York. The Catskills and Adirondacks are both judged at a moderate bear population that should be maintained around its current level.