New Hampshire Wildlife News
by Certified Wildlife Biologist, Eric P. Orff


18 November 2020
Bear Season Update #4

The 2020 New Hampshire bear harvest continues at a record level exceeding the previous record tally set in 2018 when hunters took 1,053 bears.  As of November 17th, 1,141 bears (584 males, 557 females) have been reported to the bear project.  Bait hunters harvested 754 bears (383 males, 371 females), still hunters/stalkers have taken 279 bears (152 males, 127 females) and hound hunters have reported 108 bears (49 males, 59 females).  The current overall harvest sex ratio is 1.0 males per female.  Method-specific harvest sex ratios include 1.0, 1.2 and 0.8 m:f for bait, still and hound hunters, respectively. 

Regionally, 215 bears (94 males, 121 females) have been taken in the North, 351 (184 males, 167 females) in the White Mountains, 336 (175 males, 161females) in the Central, 113 (68 males, 45 females) in Southwest-1, 117 (57 males, 60 females) in Southwest-2 and 9 (6 males, 3 females) in the Southeast region. 

Below is a breakdown of the bear harvest through November 17th for the past 6 years.  Currently, this year’s harvest is running 38% above the 5-year in-season average (827 bears) and 32% higher than the 2019 tally (863 bears) at this point in the season. 

In addition a new overall record harvest, several new bear harvest milestones will be set during the 2020 season. This year’s bait harvest (unofficial tally of 754 bears) is the highest ever achieved exceeding the previous high of 594 bears in 2018.  On a regional basis, record harvests have been achieved in the White Mountains, Central, Southwest-1 and Southwest-2 regions.  These record harvests in central and southern bear management regions are consistent with our efforts to reduce bear density based on established bear population objectives (as specified in the NH Game Management Plan: 2016-2025) in those areas.

During these high harvest years, the vast majority of the harvest occurs during the first 30 days of the season.  By the end of September, 85% of the current harvest had been achieved.  Since the end of September, bumps in bear harvest occurred on weekends when there was an increased number of hunters in the woods as a result of other hunting opportunities.  For example, 21 bears were taken by still hunting during the moose season.  These bears were likely taken opportunistically by moose hunters and others in the hunting parties.  Similarly, hunters pursuing deer have taken 24 bear since the start of the muzzleloader deer season.  In regions where additional harvest pressure is warranted, bear seasons intentionally overlap with deer seasons to provide added harvest opportunity.

The bait and hound hunting portion of the season has ended in all regions.  The bear hunting season has ended in the North, Southwest-1, Southwest-2 and Southeast regions.  The still hunting season remains open in the White Mountains and Central regions until November 30. 

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 11/17/20 AS TALLIED ON 11/17/20

Year 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
9/30 518 685 430 894 616 969
10/31 652 828 522 1038 771 1118
11/17 745 893 582 1050 863 1141

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