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Sullivan leads state in 2020 bear harvest

Fred Stabbert III - Publisher
Posted 3/18/21

SULLIVAN COUNTY - Big game hunters in New York almost set a new state record - harvesting 1,723 black bears this past fall - which is second all-time behind the 2003 harvest of 1,863.

The Southern …

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Sullivan leads state in 2020 bear harvest

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SULLIVAN COUNTY - Big game hunters in New York almost set a new state record - harvesting 1,723 black bears this past fall - which is second all-time behind the 2003 harvest of 1,863.

The Southern Zone - which includes Sullivan County and approximately 42 other downstate counties - dropped from 1,179 bears harvested in 2019 to 1,152 in 2020.

However, hunters in the Northern Zone, which includes 9 counties in the Adirondacks and North Country, shot 571 bears last year, a 245-bear increase over 2019.

We're No. 1

Of the 50 counties which reported bear harvests, Sullivan County ranked No. 1 statewide, bagging 215 bears in 2020.

This harvest included 123 bears that were taken during the early bear hunt in September, 59 during bow season and 33 during the regular firearms season.

The Town of Mamakating reported the most bear harvests county-wide, with 39. Thompson was second with 22 followed by Bethel with 21.

Ulster County came in second in the state with 176 bear harvests, including 108 in the early bear hunt and 30 during the regular firearm season.

Delaware County was third statewide, with 140 bears in 2020.

Interesting Data

The heaviest bear harvested in the state came from Orange County, a 550-lb. boar taken in the Town of Greenville during the early bear hunt.

The second heaviest black bear was taken in Hunter, Greene County, and tipped the scales at 540 lbs. It was also taken during the early firearm season.

The only other bear to top the 500 lb. mark last year was taken in Wawarsing, Ulster County during the bow season and was a 500 lb. male.

Interesting data

While the number of bear harvests was up, year over year in the Southern Zone, 68 percent of the bear were harvested during the early firearm and bow seasons combined.

There were “only” 359 bears harvested during the regular firearm and muzzleloader 2020 seasons, although the weather was unseasonably warm.

In 2019, 636 bears were taken during the firearm and muzzleloader seasons combined. That means 277 less bears were harvested during these two seasons, when the most hunters are in the field.

That's a 44 percent decrease, year over year.

Many hunters believe that the bears went into hibernation early because of the lack of an abundant mast crop and apparent lack of food.

Sullivan County, which is located in the Southern Zone, has the highest bear densities in the state, with an estimated 1 to 4 bears per square mile, depending on location.

With 997 total square miles, Sullivan County is home to well over 1,000 bears, and possibly as many as 2,500 to 3,000.

Sullivan and Ulster Counties also lead the state in black bear harvest density, averaging between 15.1 - 30 bear harvests per 100 square miles.

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