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DEC Announces 2023 NY Bear Harvest


New York bear hunters harvested an estimated 1,356 black bears during the 2023 hunting season. Though rarely seen by most New Yorkers, black bears are valued by hunters, photographers, and wildlife watchers alike, and are well-established in many areas across the state.

“Black bear populations continue to expand into areas occupied historically,” said New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos. “This expansion is a conservation success story and robust populations afford great hunting opportunities. DEC encourages New Yorkers to learn the BearWise basics to help live more responsibly with bears and reduce the likelihood of human-bear conflicts in their backyards.”

Hunters harvested an estimated 485 bears in the Northern Zone and an estimated 871 bears in the Southern Zone. This represents roughly six percent more bears harvested in the north and one percent more in the south than in 2022. The total bear harvest in 2023 was approximately seven percent lower than the five-year average.

The Catskill region continued to produce the greatest bear harvest densities, and in Wildlife Management Units (WMU) 3A, 3C, 3K, 4R, and 4W hunters took more than 10 bears per 100 square miles, with hunters taking more than 15 bears per 100 square miles in WMU 3K.

Notable Numbers

  • 16.1: The number of bears harvested per 100 square miles in WMU 3K, the greatest bear harvest density of any WMU.

  • 550 pounds: The heaviest dressed-weight bear reported to DEC in 2023, taken in the town of Windsor, Broome County, WMU 7S. Scaled weights of dressed bears were submitted for 21 percent of bears taken in 2023.

  • 648: The number of hunter-harvested bears from which DEC collected teeth to determine the bear’s age in 2023.

  • 25: The age of the oldest bear harvested in 2022. The bear was harvested in the town of West Union, Steuben County, WMU 8X. Bear teeth from the 2023 season are still being analyzed.

  • 1: The number of bears harvested in WMU 7A in 2023. This was the first bear ever reported as harvested in the unit since DEC first began tracking bear harvest information in 1970.

Black bear harvest data is gathered from two main sources: harvest reports required of all successful bear hunters and the physical examination of bears by DEC staff and cooperating taxidermists. Harvest estimates are made by cross-referencing these two data sources and determining the rate at which hunters report bear harvests in each zone. In fall 2023, DEC will send a commemorative 2023 Black Bear Management Coordinator Patch and a letter confirming each bear’s age to all hunters who reported their bear harvest and submitted a tooth for age analysis.

DEC’s 2023 Bear Harvest Summary report provides tables, figures, and maps detailing the bear harvest around the state. Past harvest summaries are also available on DEC’s website. DEC’s Black Bear Management Plan provides information on how DEC determines black bear population objectives throughout the state.



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