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Hooks and antlers: Adirondack bear harvest returns to normal numbers

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Adirondack hunters harvested 606 black bears in 2012, and that figure represents a 220 percent increase over the 2011 take of 275 bears in the Adirondacks. The 2012 kill is a return to more typical harvest numbers after the poor 2011 take that marked the lowest kill in the past 20 years.

The majority of the 2012 bear kills occurred during the early season, and, according to a DEC press release, “This pattern was expected after a summer of low natural food availability.

“The early season harvest is always high in such years because bears are moving more in search of food and many are closer to human food sources, which in both cases makes them more vulnerable to harvest.

“In fact, towns along the western and southern fringe of the Adirondacks saw some of the highest harvests as bears were found feeding in corn fields during the early season. Bears also tend to den early when natural foods are scarce, so fewer bears were available to hunters during the regular season.”

Adirondack Take by Season

Hunters took 386 black bears or 64 percent of the Adirondack harvest during the early season, 39 bears or 6 percent of the harvest during the bow season, 49 bears or 8 percent of the harvest during the muzzleloader season, and 132 bears or 22 percent of the harvest during the regular season.

The overall Adirondack total was slightly ahead of the five-year-average kill of 547 bears, and the 2012 total was the fifth highest take in the past 20 years. Forty percent of the bears taken in the recent season were females, while 60 percent were males. These percentages are similar to the 20-year, historical take of 43 percent females and 57 percent males.

Adirondack Take by County

Of the 13 counties in the Adirondack region, Lewis County led the way with a take of 84 black bears, while St. Lawrence and Essex counties had kills of 73 bears. The other counties and their respective harvests were Herkimer (66), Warren (62), Clinton (54), Fulton (47), Jefferson (38), Hamilton (38), Franklin (35), Oneida (24), Saratoga (9) and Washington (3).

In Lewis County, 25 bears were taken in the town of Croghan, 14 in Diana, 12 in Greig, 11 in Watson and nine in New Bremen.

In St. Lawrence County, 15 bears were harvested in the town of Hopkinton, eight in Fine, seven in Piercefield and six each in Clare and Colton.

In Jefferson County, hunters killed 22 bears in the town of Wilna, seven in Antwerp, five in Philadelphia and four in LeRay. In Franklin County, seven bears were taken in the town of Brandon, five each in Tupper Lake and Dickinson, and four apiece in Malone and Franklin.

Statewide Bear Take

The 2012 statewide bear take of 1,337 marked the third highest harvest in the past 20 years and an increase of 79 bears over the 2011 kill of 1,258 bears.

The central-western bear hunting area saw a harvest of 289 black bears, the second highest in the area’s history, while the southeastern bear hunting area had a 2012 kill of 442 bears, a number that is representative of the average harvest for the past 10 years.

The 2012 take in both the central-western and southeastern areas was a drop from 2011 when those areas saw record takes of 353 bears and 630 bears, respectively.

According to a DEC press release, “In both areas, take during bow season contributed substantially to the overall take (51 percent southeastern, 37 percent central-western) and increased from 2011, reflecting the longer bow season initiated in 2012 and greater availability of bears during this period. Notably, take during the regular season dropped in both areas.

“The drop was most pronounced in southeastern New York where biologists anticipated a potential reduced harvest due to early denning behavior associated with the general lack of soft and hard mast (apples, acorns, and beechnuts).”

DEC Seeks Waterfowl Input

April 5 is the deadline for hunters who wish to have their voices heard regarding the dates for the 2013 season.

Interested hunters can express their ideas to members of the Northeastern Zone Task Force, and among the region’s members on that task force are Pete Barney representing the Northern NY Area (, Andrew MacDuff representing DEC (785-2534;, Nick McNamara representing Northern WMAs (344-6580;, and Bill Saiff III representing the Ontario-St. Lawrence Area (771-3514;

Outdoors Calendar

Tuesday: SLC Fisheries Advisory Board meets at Canton BOCES at 7 p.m.

Sunday: Crow season closes in NYS.

Sunday: Coyote hunting season closes in NYS.

April 1: Trout season opens on NYS waters.

April 6: Ogdensburg Chamber of Commerce hosts Sportmen’s Show at Golden Dome (393-3620).

April 6-7: Hunter education course at Osceola R&G Club (Pre-register at 963-1158).

April 7-8: Hunter education course at Massena R&G Club (In-person registration with Massena Town Clerk).

April 12-13: Hunter education course at Duffany’s Body Shop, Watertown (Pre-register at 788-2161).

April 12-14: Hunter Education Course at Fisher’s Landing Fire Hall (Pre-register at Clayton Library).

April 13: Hunter education course at Beaver River F&G Club (Pre-register at Buckingham Hardware, Croghan).

April 13-14: Massena R&G Club hosts annual Sportsmen’s Expo.

April 20: Hunter Education Course at Moose River F&G Club (Pre-register at 351-6673).

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