New York Bear Harvest Up Slightly from Previous Season

Hunters reported killing 1,356 black bears during the 2023 season, with the Catskills

showing the greatest density.

New York bear hunters harvested a reported 1,356 black bears during the 2023 big-game hunting

seasons. Overall harvest increased slightly compared to the 2022 hunting season, with the

greatest harvest density occurring in areas of the Catskills. An estimated 485 bears were

harvested in the Northern zone and an estimated 871 bears in the Southern zone.

These zone totals represent roughly 6 percent more bears harvested in the North and 1 percent

more in the South than in 2022. However, 2022’s total bear harvest was about 7 percent fewer

bears than the five-year average. 

Hunters harvested more than 10 bears per 100 square miles in Wildlife Management Units

(WMU) 3A, 3C, 3K, 4R and 4W.

Notable Numbers

● 16.1: The number of bears harvested per 100 square miles in WMU 3K, the greatest

bear harvest density of any WMU.

● 550 pounds: The heaviest dressed-weight bear reported to DEC in 2023, taken near

the town of Windsor, Broome County, WMU 7S. Scaled weights of dressed bears

were submitted for 21 percent of the bears taken in 2023.

● 648: The number of hunter-harvested bears from which DEC collected teeth to

determine the bear’s age in 2023.

● 25: The age of the oldest bear harvested in 2022. The bear was harvested in the town

of West Union, Steuben County, WMU 8X.

● 1: The number of bears harvested in WMU 7A in 2023. This was the first bear ever

reported as harvested in the unit since DEC first began tracking bear harvest

information in 1970. 

Black bear harvest data are gathered from two main sources: harvest reports required of all

successful bear hunters and the physical examination of bears by DEC staff and cooperating

taxidermists. Harvest estimates are made by cross-referencing these two data sources and

determining the rate at which hunters report bear harvests in each zone.  

DEC also requests that successful bear hunters submit a premolar tooth from the bear to

determine its age. DEC uses this information to assess the impact of bear harvest on the age

distribution of the bear population. Hunters who reported their bear harvest and submitted a tooth

for age analysis are given a commemorative Black Bear Management Coordinator Patch. The

hunter will be informed, by autumn 2024, of the age of their bear. Bear teeth from the 2023

season are still being analyzed.

DEC’s 2023 Bear Harvest Summary report  provides tables, figures and maps detailing the bear

harvest around the state. Past harvest summaries are also available on DEC’s website.


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