Hunters are killing fewer bears this season than in the past two years, although harvest numbers are higher than before the pandemic, according to the states longtime bear biologist.
The preliminary number of bears killed during the hunt was 3,269 according to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlifes electronic reporting system. But the actual number could be closer to 3,300 if bears shot by deer hunters are counted, bear biologist Jennifer Vashon said.
Maine and Alaska are the only two states in the union that allow all three methods of hunting bears: baiting, using trained dogs and trapping. Maine, which has one of the highest bear populations in North America, also allows resident hunters to shoot a bear while hunting a deer.
The gap widened this year between the number of non-resident versus resident bear hunters.
Last year, non-residents made up 52 percent of bear hunters. By 2023, that number has increased to 55 percent, said Vashon, who was the state’s leading biologist for nearly 20 years before recently being promoted to oversee the game section of the research and management team. MDIF&Ws.
Residents dominate hunting moose and deer in Maine, he said. Of the 200,000 total hunting licenses in Maine in 2023, including bears, residents will have 180,000 of them.
Seventy percent of bears are shot with bait, while between 20 and 25 percent are hunted with dogs, Vashon said. He doesn’t know why the interest in using dogs is growing, that’s all.
The number of bears harvested by trapping has also increased, he said. Pre-pandemic about 100 bears were trapped each season. In 2023, approximately 300 were detained.
Resident trapping permits have increased from about 500 to more than 1,000 in the same time period, and residents have more interest in trapping than non-residents, Vashon said.
The requirement that trappers take a black bear trapping course in the state before they can be issued a permit may deter non-residents. Nonresidents tend to hire experienced Maine registered guides for their bear hunts, he said.
The guides do the work of preparing to establish a bait area and maintain it or they have dogs trained for bear hunting. Nothing can be done if the hunter doesn’t live in Maine and is only here for a few days, he said.
They got a unique Maine bear hunting experience. That’s why they came here, Vashon said.
Maine had approximately 15,000 bear hunters in 2002, but the rising cost of bear permits reduced those numbers in 2003. They are slowly starting to rebuild and in 2019, there are 11,000 hunters. Last year recorded 13,627.
The explosion in the number of hunters may be related to the state lowering permits for residents from $27 to $10 by 2022, Vashon said.
The preliminary number of bear permits for 2023 is 13,143.
The Maine black bear population is unique in that it has a low number of disease parasites, making it a very healthy population. Bears can get sarcoptic mange, which can be bad for young cubs, but it’s still not serious. Maine has not seen bears die from mange, he said.
The bear population is generally stable, and although there are no regional estimates of bear numbers, the animals are rarer in the southern and coastal areas of the state.
Bears are studied in a particular area. One has been in the Bradford, Lagrange and Howland area since 1982, and a second, shorter-duration study is in Unity, where bear deaths from car collisions with animals are high.
Hotspots for conflicts between bears and people are central Maine, Old Town and Hermon because of development pressures in those areas, he said.
As in these years with fewer kills, Vashon said bears don’t go to bait areas when natural food is plentiful. This year is especially good for mast crops like acorns, which means there are more bears shot by deer hunters than in previous years because the bears stay in their dens longer.
More articles from BDN
#bear #harvest #decreased #compared #previous #years
Image Source : www.bangordailynews.com