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Bear Hunting

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Bag Limits

Resident and nonresident hunters may take one bear by gun or bow each license year. In the Southern Zone, you may not shoot a cub or a bear that should be known to be a cub, shoot any bear from a group of bears, or shoot or take a bear from its den.

Northern Zone Bear

Hunters who harvest a bear in the Northern Zone will be asked to submit part of the lower jaw or a tooth of the bear to determine the age of the bear. A collection packet including a postage-paid return jaw envelope and information explaining collection will be mailed to each hunter that reports a bear. There are many cooperating taxidermists within New York that can remove and submit teeth, so check with your taxidermist. Generally, taxidermists do not use teeth or the lower jaw for their mounts.

Southern Zone Bear

DEC wildlife staff would like to examine bears harvested in the Southern Zone before they are skinned or butchered and will make every attempt to contact hunters to check their bear. When reporting a bear, hunters will be asked to provide name, phone number, and location or address where the bear can be examined. If wildlife staff are not available, bears can be examined by cooperating taxidermists and meat cutters.

Know Of Any Active Bear Dens?

DEC wants to know about occupied dens. Please call the nearest wildlife office. See Important Numbers.

Available for viewing or loan from your local library or local DEC regional wildlife office.

“Living with New York Black Bears” (Great Outdoors Multimedia 2007).

Take an inside look at the mysterious world of black bears and learn some secrets to sharing the landscape with bears. This video will explore the history of black bears, the challenges that face New York black bear biologists, and how landowners can responsibly and safely share their neighborhood with bears.

New York State Bear Management Cooperator Program

The Bureau of Wildlife is requesting the assistance of successful black bear hunters in New York State.

Hunters who harvest a bear in New York are required to report their harvest through the DECALS telephone system at 1-866-426-3778 (1-866-GAMERPT) or use the new online Harvest Reporting System at Northern Zone hunters will be sent a tooth collection packet with premolar removal and submission instructions. Southern Zone hunters may be contacted by a DEC wildlife biologist to examine your bear and extract a premolar tooth for aging.

Report your bear and return a bear tooth to receive a commemorative 2014 NYS Black Bear Cooperator Patch. Samples will be aged in the summer of 2015. Cooperators will receive patches and letters indicating the age of their bear in early fall 2015.

Changes in Bear Hunting Regulations

DEC has adopted changes to bear hunting seasons that open most of upstate New York for bear hunting and create an early bear season in parts of southeastern New York. See map below for details.

Attention Bear Hunters and Taxidermists

Bear gallbladders and bile shall not be possessed or sold unless a valid bear tag (original or copy of bear carcass tag) is attached. A new law now also requires taxidermists to keep records of all bear gallbladders and bile received or sold.

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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