Vermont bear hunters take record 750 black bears in 2019

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NEWPORT — The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department reports that bear hunters in Vermont had a safe and successful hunting season in 2019.

Preliminary numbers show that hunters took a record 750 black bears during the two-part early and late bear seasons.

The previous highest harvest ever recorded in Vermont was 728 in 2004.

There were also no hunting-related shooting incidents.

The average number of bears taken over the previous 10 years was 597.

The hunting season results are consistent with the goal of maintaining the bear population to within 4,500 to 6,000 bears, according to Fish and Wildlife’s bear biologist Forrest Hammond.

In 2019, hunters took a majority of the bears, 481, in the early season and only 269 in the late bear season, which overlaps with the November deer season.

Many large bears were reported with 12 weighing over 300 pounds.

Hammond noted that participation in the early bear season has remained high with large numbers of hunters choosing to purchase a $5 early season bear tag.

“Between an abundant population, a long hunting season and the potential of harvesting delicious and nutritious bear meat, Vermonters and visitors are becoming increasingly interested in hunting this big game animal,” said Hammond.

Fifty years ago Vermont had less than 1,500 bears, and they were found mostly in the mountains and northeastern quarter of the state.

“Today we have about 5,000 bears in Vermont, and they are found pretty much throughout the state,” Hammond said.