On September 27, 2023

Vermont has 7,000-8,500 black bears, VTF&W says, a five-year high

 

Vermont’s black bear population is estimated at 7,000 to 8,500 based on 2022 data, the most recent available, according to the Vermont Fish and Wildlife department (VTF&W). 

“It is important to look at the 2022 population estimate as part of the typical cycles of growth and decline in a bear population that is stable over the long term,” said wildlife biologist and Black Bear Project Leader Jaclyn Comeau.  “The 7,000 to 8,500 bear estimate for 2022 is a five-year high.  We will be watching closely in the coming few years to see if the population drops as we have seen it do before, after high years in previous cycles.”

 Comeau stressed that the current population estimate is not a basis for changes to Vermont’s bear management at this time.  She added that today’s robust bear population is the result of a decades-long research and conservation effort that includes land protection, regulated hunting and significant public education on proactive conflict prevention. 

As recently as the early 1970s Vermont’s bears were found only in mountainous areas and the Northeast Kingdom, and likely numbered between 1,500 and 3,500.  Today they are found in every Vermont town except for communities on the Lake Champlain Islands.  Since the mid-1990s the population has been relatively stable, fluctuating from 4,000 to 7,500 bears in consistent cycles of growth and decline.  The population has seen steady growth since 2019.

 “Taking active steps to coexist with bears is our responsibility as Vermonters,” said Comeau. “That means respecting these powerful animals as an important part of our native biodiversity, using proactive conflict prevention strategies like keeping human food out of bears’ reach, and relying on a scientifically regulated hunting season to keep the bear population in line with Vermont’s social carrying capacity.”

 The department’s bear population model uses age and sex data from hunter harvests and non-hunting mortalities like vehicle strikes to estimate the population and account for model uncertainty.  Because the model relies on annual data from hunters, it lags one year behind the current hunting season.

 “Hunter harvest data are used by state fish and wildlife agencies to model bear populations nation-wide,” said biometrician and Research Program Manager Katherina Gieder.  “We are confident in our bear population model estimates because they consistently match what other data indicate about the population trend over time.  Model certainty has also increased in recent years, especially since making it mandatory for bear hunters to submit a tooth from their harvest to the department in 2018.  It’s a good example of how community science can directly inform wildlife conservation.”

 

 

 

 

Do you want to submit feedback to the editor?

Send Us An Email!

Related Posts

Robert Hecker appointed to Killington Select Board

May 15, 2024
By Curt Peterson Robert Hecker has been appointed to take Steve Finneron’s seat on the Killington Select Board. The announcement came after an executive session Monday night May 13. The position lasts until next Town Meeting Day vote, when voters will choose the person to fulfill the remaining year of Finneron’s term.  Hecker was one…

Town resolves eminent domain 

May 15, 2024
Deal with landowner called ‘win-win’ By Polly Mikula The town of Killington will not pursue an eminent domain hearing scheduled for May 20, having recently resolved the case with the landowner.  Eva Nagymihaly and her sister, Theresa Rust, own land on the east side at the base of Killington Road to the intersection with Route…

Logging company fined for wetland and water quality impacts in Bridgewater, Thetford

May 15, 2024
The Agency of Natural Resources Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Vermont Forests, Parks, and Recreation (FPR) announced May 8 that Thomson Timber Harvesting and Trucking LLC (Thompson Timber), a company that performs logging activities in Vermont, was fined $32,550 for violating the Vermont Wetland Rules and failing to follow acceptable management practices (AMPs) for…

Wonderfeet Kids’ Museum celebrates expansion

May 15, 2024
By Polly Mikula Saturday, May 11, Wonderfeet Kids’ Museum held a grand opening celebration from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Merchants Row downtown. While the museum relocated to its current location (66 Merchants Row) last spring, this was the first time the organization has celebrated that expansion. The move allowed Wonderfeet Kids’ Museum to tripled in size with new…