2017’s Sunny Bear Forecast

Amazing progress. In 2014, I reported that 75 percent of the 43 responding states and provinces evaluated their bear hunting opportunities as “Very Good” or “Excellent.” This year that category has grown to 85 percent, and looks to continue an upward climb. Six states showed notable increases in their bear harvest between 2015 and 2016, and 98 percent of respondents evaluated their bear numbers as “Stable” or “Growing.” Notably, Pennsylvania has “huntable bear populations in over three-quarters of the state.” Impressive. In 2015, I told you about a possible spring season in Ontario, Canada. One of my favorite projects to follow was the New Jersey initiative to have an archery-only season, which became a reality in 2016. Mike Madonia, the Black Bear Project Leader, said that the past season had a record harvest of bears, and the archery-only hunt in October was a major reason why. Over 30 states contributed hunters to New Jersey bear hunting, and the success rate was solid at 30 percent. New Jersey bears increased substantially over the last three seasons, and bear numbers are projected to increase again as this Forecast goes to print. Also, there are multi-species opportunities that can take advantage of not just food crops, but also the time of year afield. A spring season is available in most Canadian provinces, but only in nine U.S. states (all of which are in the West, including Alaska).

Amazing progress. There is no better way to describe the cumulative opinions of the biologists and researchers devoted to bear issues in the U.S. and Canada. I’ve been following projects and initiatives in the bear world for over four years now, and I want to put some perspective on the results to date.

In 2014, I reported that 75 percent of the 43 responding states and provinces evaluated their bear hunting opportunities as “Very Good” or “Excellent.” This year that category has grown to 85 percent, and looks to continue an upward climb. Six states showed notable increases in their bear harvest between 2015 and 2016, and 98 percent of respondents evaluated their bear numbers as “Stable” or “Growing.” Notably, Pennsylvania has “huntable bear populations in over three-quarters of the state.” Impressive.

BearFC

In 2015, I told you about a possible spring season in Ontario, Canada. I’m happy to report that Ontario now indeed does have a spring season pilot project that will last until 2020, and nonresidents can participate. With one of the largest black bear populations in North America (numbering around 100,000, and second only to British Columbia), this will surely be a fantastic opportunity for hunters.

One of my favorite projects to follow was the New Jersey initiative to have an archery-only season, which became a reality in 2016. Mike Madonia, the Black Bear Project Leader, said that the past season had a record harvest of bears, and the archery-only hunt in October was a major reason why. Over 30 states contributed hunters to New Jersey bear hunting, and the success rate was solid at 30 percent. New Jersey bears…

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