September 19, 2008
State to allow bear hunting in county
Season will begin Oct. 18 for bow hunters and on Nov. 22 for other hunters
The state has expanded bear hunting into Cortland County and surrounding counties to cut down on the growing bear population.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation announced Thursday that hunting areas in 13 counties would be expanded.
Hunting in Cortland County will begin Oct. 18 for bow hunting and Nov. 22, during regular bear season. For portions of Chenango and Otsego counties, bow hunting begins Oct. 18, and regular hunting begins Nov. 15. Hunting season ends Dec. 18.
Public opinion across the state was supportive after meetings in the fall and winter of 2007-08 to explain management techniques to curb the rising bear population. Expanding the hunting areas around the state was considered the most effective method of control.
In addition to Cortland, bear hunting was expanded to Chautauqua, Erie, Wyoming, Genesee, Broome, Tompkins, Chenango, Monroe, Livingston, Wayne, Ontario, Seneca, Yates, Steuben, Schuyler, Onondaga, Oneida, Otsego and Tioga counties.
DEC regulations say it is illegal to hunt bear without a valid big game license that allows for hunting bears. In addition, only a legal longbow is permitted during the archery portion of the hunting season.
Approximately 6,000 to 7,000 bears live in the state, and sightings have steadily increased.
According the DEC Web site, 4,000 to 5,000 bears reside in the Adirondack region, which is the highest concentration in the state.
Populations also reside in the Southern Bear Range, which are the Catskill and Allegany regions. About 2,000 live in the southern range, which includes Cortland County.
DEC spokeswoman Lori O’Connell said black bears have been increasing in numbers around the northern and southern portions of the state.
O’Connell said there is no particular reason to account for the increase, since bears will move to wherever they can get food and will keep returning as long as they can get it.
DEC spokesmen say bears mainly raid birdfeeders, garbage cans near homes, or cornfields and beehives on farms.
According to the DEC, a majority of black bear sightings in the Adirondacks are from campers. DEC officers shot and killed a 350-pound male black bear in August 2006, which had become aggressive towards campers in the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks. According to the DEC, the bear had grown accustomed to raiding food supplies from backpackers in the Flowed Lands camping area.
O’Connell added that bears have not been evenly distributed around the state, unlike some other animals, because of their tendency to seek food where they find it.
She said last year, parts of the Catskills were opened for bear hunting in response to the population growth.
Two bear sightings were reported in June in Cortland. An adult black bear was seen walking from Dawn Drive to Woodcrest Drive. In addition, several bear cubs were seen on Kellogg Road.
Cortland County 911 Center Communications Coordinator Nick Wagner said there had not been any new sightings reported to the dispatch center since then. The DEC has also not received any new information on local sightings.
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