New York Among States With Fall Bear Issues

New York DEC, Bear Hunting Magazine

With a drought across much of the nation this past summer, the results of a scant berries and beechnuts season in New York has lead to smaller than average bear cubs. These cubs have now been wandering into upstate towns searching for food before they go into hibernation.

Officials with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) have reported that they have seen more cubs than ever before out and about. The department has been busy responding to calls about bears in backyards and parking lots in the past month, when usually bear reports are rare this time of year. One official saw five cubs running around Glens Falls (about 45 miles north of Albany) last week in just one day.

An average weight cub in New York this time of year should weigh around 50 pounds, but biologists have seen a number of them in the 15 to 20 pound range. Officials believe it is unlikely they have enough body fat to make it through the winter. The DEC is quick to state that fluctuations in food supply and wildlife populations are nothing to worry about. This is a natural thing and if residents see undersize cubs, leave them alone. Don’t feed them. Some won’t make it through the winter, but that’s how nature works.

The summer of 2011 had a bumper crop of berries and other bear food, so females were large and had more cubs than average over the winter. With an unusually mild winter, the cub survival rate was high. But, with this past drought, conditions changed in a hurry. Officials will find out how adult bears fared with reduced food over the summer and fall when they compile reports from hunters who successfully harvest a bear over the winter.

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