SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. >> Hunters took 1,539 black bears during the 2016 hunting seasons, 176 fewer than the year before, the state Department of Environmental Conservation announced Friday.
Hunters bagged 1,025 bears in the Southern Zone, about 10 percent fewer than in 2015, but slightly more than the recent five-year average.
Nearly equal numbers of bears were taken during the bow season (379) and regular season (398). The early season, which is allowed in only a handful of Catskill region management units yielded 228 bears.
In the Northern Zone, 514 bears were taken, about 12 percent fewer than in 2015, but on par with the historical average.
Bear harvest in the Northern Zone tends to alternate between strong harvests during the early season one year, followed by strong harvests during the regular season the next year, based primarily on cycles of food availability. In 2016, hunters were most successful during the early season, taking 238 bears, while the regular season produced 167 bears.
New in 2016, junior hunters were allowed to take black bears during the Youth Firearms Big Game Hunt over Columbus Day weekend. That hunt overlapped with the early bear season in the Northern Zone. Ten junior hunters in the Southern Zone were able to take advantage of the new opportunity and harvest a bear.
The heaviest dressed weight bear reported to DEC was 555 pounds, taken in the town of Brandon, Franklin County. A 540-pound dressed weight bear was reportedly taken in the town of Walton in Delaware County, and seven bears were reported with dressed…
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