Black bear hunting on track to expand in Massachusetts

HorizontalHunter

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WESTBOROUGH - With the number of black bears in Massachusetts increasing, a state board voted Thursday to open the entire state to bear hunting, expanding the territory where the animals can be killed into eastern Massachusetts.

The Fisheries and Wildlife Board voted 6-0 Thursday to lift a restriction that currently limits black bear hunting to areas west of Interstate 495.

The board also voted to allow hunters to kill black bears during the shotgun deer hunting season, which begins the Monday after Thanksgiving. The bear hunting season is currently split into a period of 17 days in September and another stretch of 18 days in early November.

“We know we have to control the bear population, and this really is about the only tool we have left,” said Chairman George Darey, who endorsed the hunting expansion.

The bear population in Massachusetts has rebounded sharply since the 1800s, when bears disappeared from most of the state. Numbers began rising again in the 1950s, increasing from several hundred bears in the state to as many as 4,000 today, according to the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. The animals are known to live and breed as far east as Worcester County and northern Middlesex County.

“The population has gotten so big that conflicts are starting to arise," newly appointed Fish and Game Commissioner George Peterson said Thursday. "You've got these pictures of bears in Worcester up in a tree, and they have to possibly euthanize them. Nobody wants to see that done, so you want to limit the amount of conflicts, and the only way that you can do that is through the regulatory structure, and using hunting and other methods to be able to sustain the population."

State wildlife officials say the change is also aimed at increasing access for hunters. In MetroWest, which straddles two of the state’s wildlife management zones, the change would open up Framingham, Sudbury, Wayland and Natick to bear hunting and expand the existing hunting territory in Hopkinton, Milford, Southborough and Marlborough.

Read more:

http://m.metrowestdailynews.com/arti...News/150209776
 
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Only one comment on the article so far, and it's precious:

Debbie Goodwin said:
leave the bears alone!!!!!!!!!!!!!! if we stopped taking their land and forests there would be no need of this
[rolleyes]
 

MAGG

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although not a hunter, I have been schooled on here about the need for deer population control etc...and if there are 4000 or so black bears in Mass how many tags will they give out to thin the heard?
 

Woodstock

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So . . .if they can be hunted during shotgun deer season, can they now be taken with shotguns? How about muzzle loaders, bows, revolvers?
 
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Blackpowder, bows, handguns (early season) are allowed now, as well as rifles. According to the regs no shotties. Plus you need the bear permit.
 

Spanz

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yeah you ain't gonna see that many bear during shotgun deer season, but it is a possibility.
why not just open the bear season from Sept 2 to the start of shotgun deer season. there are sooooo few of us bear hunters left in ma, you need to give them enough time to scout and get into the woods to find them pesky critters.
also, clearing up the whole baiting thing would help. For instance, how about letting you use scent to attract the bear, like burnig honey or bacon smoke? trying to find them suckers without dogs or bait barrels is pretty frigin hard!
 

pupchow

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2014 Bear Harvest infos:

http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/df.../masswildlife-monthly-february-2015.html#bear

"2014 Black Bear Harvest Report

Bear Project Leader Laura Conlee reports that a record 240 bears were harvested during the split fall season, 203 in September and 37 in November. In total, 132 males and 107 females were taken. Harvest breakdown by county is as follows: 78 in Berkshire; 56 in Franklin; 51 in Hampden; 43 in Hampshire; 4 in Middlesex; and 8 in Worcester."
 

HorizontalHunter

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I have never spent any time chasing bears but I was considering giving it a shot this fall.

Considering that there are a lot of natural food sources available I was ordering how effective is baiting when you have to pull the bait 10 days before the season starts? Anyone here have any success with it?

Bob
 

whacko

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although not a hunter, I have been schooled on here about the need for deer population control etc...and if there are 4000 or so black bears in Mass how many tags will they give out to thin the heard?
Actually quite a few as the success rate for bear hunters is quite low in mass because you can't use dogs or bait. There are two ways for wildlife managers to control harvest......limit the effort (fewer tags) or limit the method allowed in order to lower the success rate.........limiting effort means fewer tags sold and less coin in the coffers so........you get the picture
 
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weatherby

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Why would you want to allow an open season when the species has new offspring to care for?
Males don't take care of the offspring.
It is a time when bears are very active.
Their coats are also some of the best at that time of year.

It would also be effective in what they are trying to do.....I'm "sure" more so than shotgun season will be.

I'd much rather see baiting and hounds allowed where you could be totally selective in what you shoot

I said it wasn't mentioned....but it is an option
 

whacko

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Males don't take care of the offspring.
It is a time when bears are very active.
Their coats are also some of the best at that time of year.

It would also be effective in what they are trying to do.....I'm "sure" more so than shotgun season will be.

I'd much rather see baiting and hounds allowed where you could be totally selective in what you shoot

I said it wasn't mentioned....but it is an option
first its a bit tough to expect a hunter to tell the difference between a male and female black bear before pulling the trigger......deer and turkey are pretty obvoiuse.....not so much with bears. Second the goal is to reduce the population not decimate it. If you run the scenario of harvesting females with cubs through a population model the population will crash because you are removing too much of a year group (the offspring born that year) because you don't harvest just the mother because the offspring die as well. We are not dealing with a population as big as the 90k deer that are estimate to be in this state......

To expand on the "year group" model.......take a hypothetical species with an average life span of 10 years.......the females of this hypothetical species are most successful at reproduction from ages 3-7. Now......you allow hunting of females that are rearing young......this reduces the age group of the offspring that year by lets say.......40% (this is hypothetical but population modeling can allow you to experiment with these numbers). This produces lower "recruitment" into this year group......which produces a detrimental reduction in the most successfully reproductive females for a period of 5 years (most successful reproductive females are from 3-7 years old)......form there it can spiral out of control and that is just from one season of "low recruitment". This is why allowing hunting of a species when the females are rearing young is not such a good idea.......unless the overall species management goal is total extermination. :)
 
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whacko

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surprising that the states with spring seasons still have bears is what your saying
there were only 4 states that had a spring bear season last time I checked........I didn't say it wasn't in practice.......I said its not a good idea.....in my opinion based on some cursory knowledge of how population modeling works
 
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Woodsy

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You put quite a bit of credit on hunters in mass to be able to tell the difference. [smile]
Yes I do. I've hunted them for years and never once took a female down. Even in the fall the cubs will tag alone with their mother. Generally the IFW or similar does a good job of managing the harvest, that's what they do for a living.
 

whacko

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Yes I do. I've hunted them for years and never once took a female down. Even in the fall the cubs will tag alone with their mother. Generally the IFW or similar does a good job of managing the harvest, that's what they do for a living.
I didnt say you specifically come on now give me a break. And as for my argument against a spring season with weatherby you kind of prove my point.....yes they do a pretty good job managing the harvest..and there is no spring season in mass probably for that reason......probably because the modeling doesn't support it.
 
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pupchow

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I have never spent any time chasing bears but I was considering giving it a shot this fall.

Considering that there are a lot of natural food sources available I was ordering how effective is baiting when you have to pull the bait 10 days before the season starts? Anyone here have any success with it?

Bob
Of the two instances of me having a shot at a bear, both times were during archery season for deer. The first time was incidental, as the bear was simply foraging for food. The other time, the bear came in FAST while I was using a bleat call. I'd seen bears on my trail cams, and found plenty of scat in the area during scouting, so it wasn't a surprise to seem them. Work got in the way of me hunting specifically for bear this past season, but I'd intended to try calling one in.

I know _____ that have set bait piles, and they don't seem to do a very good job clearing the site within the 10 days prior to the season, and they have had excellent success.
 

Woodsy

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I didnt say you specifically come on now give me a break. And as for my argument against a spring season with weatherby you kind of prove my point.....yes they do a pretty good job managing the harvest..and there is no spring season in mass probably for that reason......probably because the modeling doesn't support it.
My point was I have confidence in hunters to properly jarvest whatever animal they are going after and the IWF to manage the overall process. It works and has for years, at least here in Maine
 

weatherby

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whacko......for the discussion only I'm not currently for a spring season either.
Figured it best just to point that out now.

I feel the best thing they could do is increase the bag limit
80 % + of bears are shot in September.
Let the hunters that know bear hunting at the time when bears really get taken.
harvest them.


yes they do a pretty good job managing the harvest..and there is no spring season in mass probably for that reason.

They are trying but the population has been growing geometrically here for over a decade.
population modeling.
That's why they added two weeks to the November season several years ago and now are working on adding more time.

There will be no spring season, In my opinion, because of the uproar it would cause.
Not because it wouldn't do what they want.
 
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