One was taken in Canandaigua, one in Naples and two in Bristol as DEC issues annual report

New York State bear hunters took 1,295 black bears during the 2018 hunting seasons, state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced.

"Black bears continue to thrive in New York's exceptional bear habitat and the state's vast, accessible public lands offer great opportunities for bear hunting," said Seggos. "The black bear hunting season provides valuable tools and data for DEC's wildlife managers in their work to maintain healthy bear populations across the state."

Hunters took an estimated 804 black bears in New York's Southern Zone in 2018, approximately 20 percent fewer than 2017 and the recent five-year average.

In Ontario County, one bear was harvested in Canandaigua during bow season, one was taken in Naples during the regular firearms season and two were harvested in Bristol during bow season.

Two bears were harvested in Livingston County, one during bow season in Mount Morris and the other in Springwater during the regular season. Farther south, 79 bears were taken in Steuben County and one was taken in Yates County in Jerusalem.

With reduced natural forage for bears this past fall and deep snows in mid-November prior to the regular firearms season, many bears went into dens a few weeks earlier than normal. As a result, although bear take through the early season and bow season was comparable to 2017, take during the regular season declined by more than 40 percent from 2017.

Comparably, hunters took about 45 percent fewer bears during the Northern Zone regular season in 2018 than in 2017. Bear take during the early season was particularly strong, however, with a nearly three-fold increase over 2017 and a 50-percent increase over the five-year average. In total, hunters took an estimated 491 bears in the Northern Zone, about 25 percent more than 2017 and within the historical average range.

Some noticeable numbers from the season:

1: bear harvested per 3.2 square miles. By DEC Wildlife Management Unit (WMU), the greatest bear harvest density occurred in WMU 3C which mainly covers Ulster County and includes portions of Sullivan and Greene counties. The town of Kingston in Ulster County (WMU 3C) yielded one bear for every 1.5 square miles.

80: the greatest number of bears reported taken on any one day. It happened on Nov. 17, the opening day of the regular firearms season in the Southern Zone.

585 pounds: the heaviest dressed weight bear reported to DEC in 2018, taken in the town of Shandaken, Ulster County. A 550-pound dressed weight bear was reported taken in Marbletown, Ulster County, and six bears were reported with dressed weights between 400-500 pounds. Scaled weights of dressed bears were submitted for 23 percent of bears taken in 2018.

DEC issues coyote avoidance guidelines

The weather is warming up and so is coyote activity.

The Department of Environmental Conservation issued its annual notification, advising humans to avoid interaction with coyotes.

"While coyotes are an integral and beneficial part of our natural ecosystem, we strongly encourage all New Yorkers to do their part and follow our common-sense tips to ensure coyotes remain wary of people and minimize the chance of conflicts," Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a news release.

Coyotes increase their activity this time of year to set up dens for pups that will arrive this spring. While the animals are well-adapted to suburban and even some urban environments, but will largely avoid contact with people.

But coyotes are territorial near den sites through mid-summer as they forage to provide food for the pups.

To prevent potential conflicts, the DEC recommends:

-Do not feed coyotes.

-Reduce the risk of unintended food sources by not feeding pets outside, keeping garbage protected.

-Eliminate availability of bird seed.

-Do not allow coyotes to approach people or pets.

-Teach children to appreciate coyotes from a distance.

-Be aggressive if you see a coyote and it lingers. Stand tall, wave your arms and look large. Loud noises will help too.

If you see a coyote acting boldly, contact your local police department and DEC Regional office.

The Eastern coyote can be found in rural farmlands and forests and occasionally in populated suburban and urban areas. In fact, coyotes can provide many exciting wildlife watching opportunities from a distance. In most cases, coyotes avoid people as much as possible. However, if coyotes learn to associate people with food, such as garbage or pet food, they may lose their natural fear of humans, and the potential for close encounters or conflicts increases.