New York black bear hunters killed an estimated 1,318 black bears during the 2022 hunting seasons. Overall kills declined slightly compared to the 2021 hunting season, with the greatest density occurring in areas of the Catskills.
An estimated 458 bears were killed in the Northern Zone and an estimated 860 bears in the Southern Zone.
This represents roughly 14% more bears killed in the north and 9% fewer in the south than in 2021. However, 2022’s total bear take was only about 10% fewer bears than the 5-year average.
Despite an overall lower harvest, hunters killed more than 10 bears per 100 square miles in Wildlife Management Units (WMU) 3C, 3H, 3K, and 3M, with hunters killing more than 15 bears per 100 square miles in WMU 4R. Hunters aged from 13 to 93 successfully killed a bear in 2022, with the heaviest bear killed in Broome County in the town of Windsor, weighing in at 520 pounds.
Black bear hunting data are gathered from two main sources: reports required of all bear hunters who kill a bear; and the physical examination of bears by DEC staff and cooperating taxidermists. Estimates are made by cross-referencing these two data sources and determining the rate at which hunters report bears killed in each zone. In 2022, 80% of bear hunters in the Northern Zone and 89% of bear hunters in the Southern Zone who killed bears reported their harvest.
DEC also requests that bear hunters submit a premolar tooth from the bear they kill to determine its age. DEC uses this information to assess the impact of bear hunting on the age distribution of the bear population. In 2022, DEC received 612 teeth.
DEC’s 2022 Bear Harvest Summary report provides tables, charts, and maps detailing bear hunting around the state. Past bear hunting summaries are also available on DEC’s website. DEC’s Black Bear Management Plan provides information on how black bear population objectives are determined throughout the state.
Photo of Black Bear courtesy DEC.