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Bear Hunting In New York

Hunting Methods - Fair Chase

With the arrival of colonists in the 17th century, hunting and deforestation caused the bear population to dwindle. With little land to call home, black bears were able to survive in the Adirondacks until forests matured once again. 

When Did Bear Hunting Start In New York?

In 1923 the first Bear Hunt regulations were established.

Is The State Broken Down Into BMUs (Bear management units)?

The State is broken down into Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) and two Big Game Zones which covers Statewide, excluding Staten Island: Northern Zone and Southern Zone. Bears may be taken from both Big Game Zones.

Northern Zone WMUs:

5A, 5C, 5F, 5G, 5H, 5J, 6A, 6C, 6F, 6G, 6H, 6J, 6K, 6N.

Southern Zone WMUs: 

3A, 3C, 3F, 3G, 3H, 3J, 3K, 3M, 3N, 3P, 3R, 3S 4A, 4B, 4C, 4F, 4G, 4H, 4J, 4K, 4L, 4O, 4P, 4R, 4S, 4T, 4U, 4W, 4Y, 4Z, 5R, 5S, 5T, 6P, 6R, 6S, 7A, 7F, 7H, 7J, 7M, 7P, 7R, 7S, 8A, 8C, 8F, 8G, 8H, 8J, 8M, 8N, 8P, 8R, 8S, 8T, 8W, 8X, 8Y, 9A, 9C, 9F, 9G, 9H, 9J, 9K, 9M, 9N, 9P, 9R, 9S, 9T, 9W, 9X, and 9Y.

When Is Bear Hunting Season?

Early Season: 

  • Northern Zone: Sept 19-Oct 16

  • Southern Zone: Sept 12-27


  • Northern Zone: Sept 19-Oct 23

  • Southern Zone: Oct 1-Nov 20 and Dec14-22


  • Northern Zone: Oct 14-23

  • Southern Zone: Nov 7-20 (Not in WMUs 4J or 8C)


  • Northern Zone: Oct 17-Oct. 23

  • Southern Zone: Dec 14-Dec 22



  • Northern Zone: Oct 24-Dec 6

  • Southern Zone: Nov 21-Dec 13

Note: WMU 3S located in the Southern Zone is a Bowhunting season only WMU, that is open for hunting from Oct 1-Dec 1. 

What Weapons Are Permitted?

Archery: Long, Recurve or Compound bows with a minimum draw weight of 35 pounds; Nonbarbed arrows with two or more cutting edges at least 7/8 inches wide,  Crossbows with a draw weight between 100-200 pounds and a minimum width of 17 inches and minimum 24 inches in length, able to launch a minimum 14-inch arrow/bolt.


Firearms: Any centerfire Pistol, Rifle, or Revolver. Barrel length may not exceed 16
inches; Shotguns 20 gauge or larger, that fire a single projectile.

Muzzleloaders: Any muzzleloading firearm with a minimum bore of .44 inches, and that shoots a single projectile.


Note: To hunt with a handgun, you must have a New York State Pistol License. 

Can Hunters Kill Cubs?

Only hunters in the Southern Zone may not shoot a cub. Hunters in the Northern Zone may kill any aged or sized bear. 

Can Hunters Kill A Bear Over Bait?

No. Baiting is illegal. However, hunters are allowed 1.5 fluid ounces of a liquid scent or lure.

Is Dog Hunting Permitted In New York?

No. The use of dogs is not permitted.

What Procedure Must Hunters Follow After They Kill A Bear?

Immediately upon harvesting a bear, hunters must tag the carcass. They then have seven days to report the kill in one of three ways:

  1. Online at -

  2. Call the toll-free, automated reporting system at 1-866-426-3778

  3. The NY Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife App

The DEC will need a tooth from the bear, so the skull or the lower jaw is required to be kept until the DEC has collected the tooth. 

What Is Their Reasoning For Hunting Bears?

  • Regulating bear population

  • Controlling nuisance problems

  • Recreational opportunity for sportsmen and women

What Is The Government Organization(s), That Is In Charge Of Bear Hunting/Wildlife?

  • Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)

  • Bureau of Wildlife

When Does The Department of Environmental Conservation  Hold Their Meetings?

The DEC schedule is posted here, with meetings highlighted in yellow -

Are The Meetings Open To The Public?

There are specific meetings open to the public. Dates, times and locations are posted here highlighted in yellow -

Who Has The Power To Stop The Hunt?

The Governor and New York’s elected General Assembly Members have the authority to introduce and vote on proposed law changes. 

Basil Seggos- Commissioner of the DEC

Hunt Clubs And Organizations That Participate In And Fund Bear Hunting.

Hunting NY -

The NY DEC -

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