ALBANY - Hunting season for black bear and Canada geese have begun in New York.
State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said black bear hunting seasons opened beginning Sept. 7.
In southeastern New York, the early bear season runs from Sept. 7 to Sept. 22 in Wildlife Management Units 3A, 3C, 3H, 3J, 3K, 3M, 3P, 3R, 4P, and 4R. The early bowhunting season for bears will open in all of the Southern Zone Oct. 1, followed by the regular firearms season beginning Nov. 16.
In northern New York, the early bear season runs from Sept. 14 to Oct. 18 in Wildlife Management Units 5A, 5C, 5F, 5G, 5H, 5J, 6C, 6F, 6H, and 6J. Bowhunting season for bears also begins on Sept. 14, in the other Northern Zone units (WMUs 6A, 6G, 6K, and 6N). Muzzleloader season then opens in all northern WMUs on Oct. 19, followed by the regular firearms season for bears on Oct. 26.
“New York’s early bear hunting seasons are not only a great way to help us manage black bear populations across the state, early seasons also offer hunting and outdoor enthusiasts an excellent opportunity to enjoy late summer outings going afield,” Seggos said.
During the early season, bear hunters may use a bow (with appropriate bowhunting eligibility), crossbow, muzzleloader, handgun, shotgun, or rifle (where allowed). Because of the likelihood of warm weather, bear hunters should be prepared to skin and cool harvested bears as soon as possible to protect the quality of the meat.
Hunters may opt to skin and quarter the bear in the field, then pack out the meat in game bags to a waiting cooler of ice. From roasts, stews, burger, and sausage to barbecued ribs, bear meat makes excellent table fare. Hunters may also consider rendering bear fat into grease or lard, which is a great oil for cooking or baking and can be used to waterproof leather or to lubricate patches for muzzleloading.
Hunters are required to report their bear harvest within seven days, and DEC also encourages hunters to submit a premolar tooth and the scaled-dressed weights of the bears they harvest. DEC uses the tooth to determine the bear’s age and weight to monitor physical condition. This data is important for DEC biologists to monitor bear population dynamics and trends. Hunters who report their harvest and submit a premolar tooth from the bear are eligible to receive a commemorative NYS Black Bear Management Cooperator Patch.
Canada goose hunting season opened Sept. 1 throughout most of the state.
The September goose hunting season is designed to help reduce or stabilize resident Canada goose populations. Resident Canada geese are those that do not migrate significant distances to breed in northern Canada.
Typically, resident geese are the birds commonly associated with nuisance situations in urban and rural areas. Over the past 25 years, New York’s estimated population for resident Canada geese has grown from 80,000 birds in 1995 to more than 340,000 today.
As the population has grown, season lengths and bag limits have been liberalized in efforts to reduce even greater population growth.
For more information on the differences between migratory and resident geese and how these birds are managed, read the article “Canada Geese in New York-Residents or Visitors?” in the August 2019 issue of the DEC’s Conservationist magazine.
“Resident Canada goose populations are high in many parts of the state and New York’s goose hunters are critical partners in DEC’s efforts to manage these populations,” Seggos said. “The September goose hunting season allows hunters excellent opportunities to get out in the natural environment and pursue resident geese.”
The September Canada goose season occurs in all goose hunting zones except the Western Long Island zone. All Upstate areas are open Sept. 1 through Sept. 25. Canada goose seasons in the Central and Eastern Long Island zones begin the Tuesday following the Labor Day holiday (Sept. 3 this year) and run through Sept. 30. In the Western Long Island zone, the season opens Oct.12.
The September season includes liberal bag limits (8 to 15 birds/day, depending on zone), extended shooting hours, and other special regulations to maximize hunter success.