Vermont Extends 2013 Bear Hunting Season

Vermont FWD, Bear Hunting Magazine

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department (FWD) released information on their new strategy to manage the states growing black bear population. It involves extending the bear hunting season and implementing a low-cost early season bear tag to collect additional data on bear harvest success rates and hunter effort.

Vermont's black bear population is currently estimated at 6,000 animals, which is the very upper limit of the management objectives set forth by the their 10-year big game plan. The FWD would like to slow the population growth which has been estimated growing at around 4% each year.

The Vermont 2012 fall black bear harvest was up 20% from the average harvest due in part to a decrease in foods such as apples and beechnuts, but also because of the states large, healthy bear population. But with the increase, the state is also dealing with an increased number of damage and nuisance complaints from farmers and residents.

Beginning this fall, the regular bear hunting season will extend an additional four days in the November deer rifle season. The nine-day bear tag that overlaps with deer rifle season will still be provided at no additional cost with the purchase of a regular hunting license.

Those wishing to hunt bears before deer rifle season will now need to purchase a $5 early season bear tag. Biologists are hoping to gain a better understanding of the number of hunters who pursue bear before deer rifle season, the amount of time they spend hunting, and their success rates in order to develop effective management strategies.

Hunters 65 years or older that purchase a permanent license do not need the early season tag to hunt bear during the early season. Their license is valid during the early and late bear seasons. However, five-year and lifetime license holders whose license is valid starting in 2013 will need to purchase the additional tag to hunt bear before the November deer rifle season.

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