DEC Announces Early Bear Hunting Seasons Begin Soon

Bear Hunting Seasons Begin September 9 in Portions of Southeastern New York and September 16 in Northern New York

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the start of early bear hunting seasons across New York State.

"Black bears are an important and natural component of New York's ecosystem, and early black bear hunting seasons are a critical tool for managers to control and maintain healthy bear populations across the state," Commissioner Seggos said. "Bears are feeding heavily this time of year, gorging on wild nuts and berries and corn in the field if they can find it. Hunters can increase the odds of finding a bear by keying in on concentrated natural food sources."

In southeastern New York, the early bear season runs from Sept. 9 to Sept. 24 in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 3A, 3C, 3H, 3J, 3K, 3M, 3P, 3R, 4P, and 4R. The early bowhunting season for bears opens in all of the Southern Zone on Oct. 1, followed by the regular firearms season beginning Nov. 18.

In northern New York, the early bear season runs from Sept. 16 to Oct. 13 in WMUs 5A, 5C, 5F, 5G, 5H, 5J, 6C, 6F, 6H, and 6J. Bowhunting season for bears also begins on Sept. 16 in the other Northern Zone units (WMUs 6A, 6G, 6K and 6N). Muzzleloader season opens in all northern WMUs on Oct. 14, followed by the regular firearms season for bears on Oct. 21.

During the Early Season, bear hunters may use a bow (with appropriate bowhunting eligibility), crossbow, muzzleloader, handgun, shotgun, or rifle (where allowed). Because of the likelihood of warm weather, hunters should be prepared to skin and cool harvested bears as soon as possible to protect the quality of the meat. Hunters may opt to skin and quarter the bear in the field, then pack out the meat in game bags to a waiting cooler of ice.

From roasts, stews, burger, and sausage to barbequed ribs, bear meat makes excellent table fare. Also, many hunters render bear fat into grease or lard, which is a great oil for cooking or baking. It can also be used to waterproof leather or lubricate patches for muzzleloaders.

DEC regulates black bear hunting to manage populations levels and limit the frequency of human-bear conflicts. Information about black bear hunting in New York, including season dates regulations, is available on DEC's website. Additionally, DEC's booklet Hunting the Black Bear in New York (PDF, 800 KB), includes tips on bear hunting and proper care of harvested bears.

Hunters are reminded that reporting their harvest helps DEC better manage New York's wildlife populations and hunting opportunities: TAKE IT, TAG IT, REPORT IT.