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Draft Black Bear Management Plan available for public review

Color-coded map of NYS black bear populations
Color-coded map of NYS black bear populations

Yesterday the Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources Bureau of Wildlife under the NYS Dept of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released a draft of their 10-year Black Bear Management Plan for public review.

The DEC estimates that there are at least 2000-2500 bears in the Catskills and that the black bear range has extended into the Hudson Valley and lower Hudson Valley. Newspaper reports of bears are common in urban areas such as Kingston, NY, with outlying areas routinely reporting bear sightings. This management plan will primarily rely on increased hunting to reduce bear populations in the Catskills.

From the DEC website: Once limited to small, isolated populations in only the most inaccessible mountain regions of the state, conservative bear management has allowed black bear populations to increase dramatically in number and distribution in recent decades. However, as bear populations increase and more people choose to live and recreate in areas occupied by bears, human-bear conflicts also increase. Thus, managing bear populations is critically important and managers are challenged to balance diverse public interests in bears with concern for public safety.

In addition to describing the current and desired future status of bear populations in various geographic regions of New York, the plan will describe five primary goals identified by DEC staff that encompass the current priorities of bear managers and values and issues expressed by the public:

  1. Maintain bear populations at levels acceptable to the public;
  2. Promote and enhance bear hunting as an important management tool;
  3. Minimize the frequency and severity of human-bear conflicts;
  4. Foster understanding and communication about bear ecology, management, and conflict avoidance; and
  5. Ensure that the necessary resources are available to support effective management of black bears in New York.

The 2014-2024 document will be available until February 21. Submit comments in writing to:
NYSDEC Bureau of Wildlife
Bear Management Plan
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-4754

or by email using "Bear Plan" in the subject line.

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