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Something's a bruin with harvest totals

Deer hunters haggle about the harvest each year and increased bear numbers and kills have brought bruin hunters into prominence when big-game reports come out after each season.

Deer hunters totaled just about the same numbers during the 2009 season as in 2008, with Western New York counties continuing to score high in both totals taken and number of bucks harvested.

The total take dropped slightly from 222,979 in 2008 to 222,798 this past season. The buck count fell from 105,747 to 102,057 in 2009. Both bow and muzzleloader hunters reported an increase in takes this past year.

The even better news in deer dynamics was that after testing nearly 30,000 deer carcasses during the past five years not one additional case of chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been in New York State.

>Bears burgeoning

New York State hunters brought home the second highest total of bears in 2009. A harvest total of 1,487 black bears, a 15 percent increase over the 2008 bear season, fell well short of the 2003 record of 1,864 bruins.

Weather conditions and forage abundance accounted for the big bear year in 2003. Increased bear presence has resulted in expanded bear hunting areas in the state. The newly opened areas stretch into parts of the state which do not wholly take up areas specifically in either the Allegany or the Catskill Regions.

This year, the DEC has re-designated those open bear-hunting areas as "Central-Western" and "Southeastern." To check out the bear harvest by county, town, and management unit, go to dec.ny.gov/outdoor/42232.html.

Pennsylvania's bear hunters also logged the second highest total for the 2009 harvest. Gun and archery hunters totaled 3,512 during a three-day gun season and various bow and regionally extended open bear hunts. A record 4,164 bruins were brought in during the Keystone State's bear season in 2005.

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