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Solving Problems with Nature - Naturally

Certified Wildlife Biologist
Wildlife Author - Wildlife Lecturer - Wildlife Photographer
Non-Lethal Control of Bats since 1983



14 October 2020
Bear Season Update #2

The 2020 New Hampshire bear hunting season began with a rapid start with over 900 bears taken during the first month of the season.  As of October 13th, 945 bears (490 males, 455 females) have been reported to the bear project.  Bait hunters harvested 709 bears (361 males, 348 females), still hunters/stalkers have taken 193 bears (106 males, 87 females) and hound hunters have reported 43 bears (23 males, 20 females).  The current overall harvest sex ratio is 1.1 males per female.  Method-specific harvest sex ratios include 1.0, 1.2 and 1.2 m:f for bait, still and hound hunters, respectively. 

Regionally, 191 bears (86 males, 105 females) have been taken in the North, 282 (150 males, 132 females) in the White Mountains, 262 (141 males, 121 females) in the Central, 90 (52 males, 38 females) in Southwest-1, 112 (55 males, 57 females) in Southwest-2 and 8 (6 males, 2 females) in the Southeast region. 

Below is a breakdown of the bear harvest through October 13th for the past 6 years.  Currently, this year’s harvest is running 37% above both the 5-year in-season average (692 bears) and the 2019 tally (695 bears) at this point in the season. 

Several new bear harvest records will be set during the 2020 season. This year’s bait harvest (unofficial tally of 709 bears) is the highest on record exceeding the previous high of 594 bears in 2018.  On a regional basis, a record harvest (unofficial tally of 112 bears) has been achieved this fall in the Southwest-2 region exceeding the previous high of 111 bears.  It is possible that a new statewide bear harvest record will be set this year as the total harvest will likely surpass the previous high of 1053 bears in 2018.  High harvest in several of these regions is warranted given the need to reduce bear populations as specified in the current Big Game Management Plan: 2016-2025. 

The high bear harvest this fall is no surprise given the decreased availability of natural foods and the apparent increase in hunter participation.  Fall foods are very limited north of the White Mountains region.  Additionally, the lack of soft mast in September contributed to a high bait harvest and a spike in the number of bears taken around corn fields.  While there is an abundant acorn crop south of the White Mountains, harvest metrics suggest increased vulnerability of bears to hunter harvest this fall.  Additionally, there appears to be a spike in hunter participation this fall which may be the result of the Covid-19 pandemic.  Increased participation in fishing and spring turkey hunting has been well documented during the pandemic and this same trend is expected to continue into the fall hunting seasons.

The bait hunting portion of the season has ended in all regions.  The bear hunting season ended in the Southwest-2 and Southeast regions on October 12th.  The still hunting season will end in the North and Southwest-1 regions on November 10.  The still hunting season remains open in the White Mountains and Central regions until November 30.  The statewide hound hunting season ends on November 10.

Please continue to submit all bear registration slips and premolars with deer data mailings during the remainder of the 2020 bear season.  Thanks again for your assistance with registering bears this fall.

                                      AS OF 10/13/20 AS TALLIED ON 10/13/20

Year 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
9/15 299 411 263 555 379 585
9/30 518 685 430 894 616 909
10/13 563 754 464 983 695 945


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