Vermont Looking To Lengthen Bear Season

Vermont FWD, Bear Hunting Magazine

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Board voted to give preliminary approval to a proposal to help stabilize the growth in their states bear population, expand hunter opportunity and provide Fish & Wildlife Department biologists with important data to better manage black bears.

The board voted on a proposal presented by Vermont FWD biologists that would extend the annual bear season by four days and establish a new, separate black bear tag for those hunters who want to hunt bear before the November deer rifle season. The changes, if approved, would take effect in 2013.

Under the proposal, the overlap of the annual bear and November deer rifle season would increase from five to nine days. Additionally, bear hunters from the September 1st opening of bear season up until the opening day of deer season would be required to purchase a $5 bear tag ($15 for nonresidents). Hunters wishing to only take a bear during the time the bear season overlaps with the November deer season will continue to get a bear tag along with their deer tag on their general hunting license at no additional cost.

The FWD stated that under this new proposal, it will help them to slowly stabilize the bear population. Additionally, the bear license will enable them to gather essential information about hunter effort and success as well as an idea of overall bear hunter numbers, measures that are vital for better estimates of bear populations across Vermont.

Biologists estimate Vermont's bear population at about 6,000 animals, which is at the upper end of the population goals outlined in the Vermont Big Game Management Plan (2010-2020). Four hundred bears were harvested in 2011. Hunters typically harvest between 400-600 black bears each fall.

As part of the Fish & Wildlife Board's rule process, the proposal must be voted on at two more upcoming board meetings. Additionally, the department is recommending that one or more public hearings be held related to the adoption of this rule.

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