2013 was a good year for New York State bears. Well, it was for some of them.

nys dec bear harvest 2013 areas

The good news, if you're a bear: The darker shaded parts of the state above probably are good habitat. The bad news, bears: Those are also the places hunters are looking to shoot you.

Hunters in New York State killed the second-highest number of bears on record in 2013, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The total: 1,358.

The DEC released its "bear harvest" summary for 2013 today -- it's basically a recap of where hunters killed bears last year. A few bits:

+ The number of bears killed by hunters in the state has been trending upward over the last two decades. The average number killed from 1991-2000 was 722. Since 2001, it's been 1182 per year.

+ Hunters killed 35 bears in the Capital Region's core counties last year (Albany: 7, Rensselaer: 14, Saratoga: 14). That's up from 30 in 2012, and 26 in 2011.

+ DEC says the higher number of bears killed by hunters "reflect that bear populations have increased over the past decade." Apparently food for bears was abundant last year.And New York has "excellent bear habitat," according to a statement by DEC commissioner Joe Martens in the press release today.

+ The state has been opening more areas for bear hunting over the last decade -- including a large stretch of the area east of the Hudson from Westchester up through Washington counties in 2011. DEC says it's currently considering a plan to open all of upstate to bear hunting.

map: NYS DEC


Kill all the deer you want. Leave the bears alone.

Killing animals for sport is dumb. You can't even eat bears.

As a vegan, I often twist on my views of hunting animals in order to "manage" populations so that they can sustainably live off of the environment, which often relates back to co-existing with humans, who are increasingly encroaching on their habitats. On one hand, when populations swell and there is a lack of food available (whether due to human encroachment or simply mother nature not providing that season), culling the population to prevent horrific starvation seems like a humane thing to do. On the flip side, this is mother nature at work and who are we to intervene by hunting, when instead we should be investing in our urban communities rather than the suburban sprawl that continues to eat at bear (and countless other animal) habitats.

Commenters may not like the State’s policy on “managing” bear populations (I wrestle with it myself), however, given that it directly ties back into available habitat and resources, I think it’s more important that they look at their own lifestyle (e.g. living in the unsustainable, nature disrupting suburbs) if they truly want that policy to be modified.

We only have to look at our own region to see the byproduct of this trend, where suburban sprawl continues unabated (Southern Saratoga County, Brunswick, etc), leading to an increasing number of bear incursions in our communities so that they can find food that was once readily available to them before we paved that source over.


You absolutely can eat bear and it is tasty, cooks like good pork.

How much fun did you have writing the caption, "The bad news, bears." It made my afternoon.

(@Erin T: Easily the highlight of my Monday.)

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