Abundance of fall foods will help in locating bears
An abundance of fall foods for wildlife in most of the state this year means hunters will need to adapt during Vermont’s bear hunting season that starts Sept. 1.
“Bear hunters should concentrate their efforts in areas that have lots of apples, beechnuts, acorns, and berries this fall,” said Vermont’s bear biologist Forrest Hammond. “Bears will be feeding along power lines and in forest openings and old fields where berries and apples can be found as well as in forested beech and oak stands.”
Vermont has two bear hunting seasons. The early bear hunting season, which requires a special bear tag, starts Sept. 1 and continues through Nov. 14. The late bear season begins Nov. 15 and continues through Nov. 23.
A hunter may only take one bear during the year.
Hammond says Vermont’s regulated bear hunting seasons help in managing the state’s population of about 6,000 bears. As the department continues to refine its bear management approaches, 17 percent, or 2,000, of this year’s early season bear hunters, will participate in a survey about their hunting effort.
“Twenty-five years ago Vermont had less than 3,000 bears, and they were found mostly in the mountains and in the northeastern quarter of the state,” he said. “Although we have successfully increased bear numbers, the human population has also risen, resulting in more encounters between humans and bears. Carefully regulated hunting helps control the growth of the black bear population and allows for their sustainable use, while decreasing interactions with humans.”
To reduce potential conflicts further, Hammond encourages residents to bring inside bird seed and pet food, and to secure garbage containers, bee hives, chicken coops, and other attractants.
Hunters are also reminded to collect a small pre-molar tooth from each harvested bear, Hammond added. “The collection of a premolar tooth is critical to the bear project as it provides important data for evaluating changes to the age structure of the bear population and for making population estimates.”
Hunters took 562 bears last year in Vermont, with the largest number being taken in the town of Rockingham, where 12 were harvested by licensed hunters.