ADDISON — Bear hunters in Vermont had a safe and successful hunting season in 2015. Preliminary numbers show that they took 669 black bears during the 83 days of the two-part season. There were also no hunting-related shooting incidents.
Fish & Wildlife Department bear biologist Forrest Hammond says this is a higher harvest than the past 10-year average of 502 bears taken annually, but it is consistent with a statewide goal of stabilizing the bear population between 4,500 and 6,000 bears.
“Nearly equal numbers of bears were harvested during the early and late bear seasons,” said Hammond. “Warmer than average hunting conditions, a lack of heavy snow cover and an abundance of wild apples along with some beech nuts caused many bears to delay entering their dens, which in turn allowed for more bears than normal to be taken at the end of the late bear season.”
A lack of substantial snowfall also is believed responsible for the many reports from the public of bears visiting bird feeders and garbage at a time of year when they would normally be in their dens.
Hammond says the recent snowstorm should cause most bears to begin their winter sleep, making it possible for people to begin feeding birds.
Hammond also noted that participation in the early bear season has remained high with large numbers of hunters choosing to purchase a $5 early season bear tag.
“Between an abundant population, a long hunting season and the potential of harvesting delicious and nutritious bear meat, Vermonters and visitors are becoming increasingly interested in hunting this big game animal,” said Hammond.