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Scattershot: Outdoors news & notes

Bear Harvest Figures Released for 2016

There’s good news and bad news relative to the 2016 black bear harvest numbers. The bad news is that harvest figures are down slightly from 2015. The good news is that the total bear take is still up from most-recent five year average (2011-2015) and up significantly from the historical average (1991-2000).

A total of 1,539 black bears were taken last fall in the Empire State, down from the bruin take of 1,715 animals in 2015. In the Northern Zone of the state (which takes in the Adirondacks), the hunter harvest was 514 last year – down from 583 bears in 2015. In comparison, the most recent five-year average was 472 and the historical average was 515.

Southern Zone hunters recorded a kill of 1,025 compared to 1,132 in 2016. The most recent five-year average was 987 bruins and the historical average was only 207. Times have changed thanks to a migration of animals from Pennsylvania and New Jersey, a change in seasons and expanded boundaries. The largest black bear taken in the state last fall was a 555-pound hulk weighed in from Franklin County in the Adirondacks.

One interesting note is that 25 tagged bears were harvested. Six of those were from Pennsylvania, five from New Jersey, one from Vermont. The rest were New York tagged for research, relocation or nuisance identification. The single day that generated the largest harvest was Nov. 19 – opening day on the Southern Zone regular season. A total of 107 black bears were taken on that day. A complete detailed summary of the 2016 bear season can be found on the DEC website at

Godfrey Receives Special AFS Award

Chuck Godfrey of Cheektowaga, past president of the Erie County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs (again) and the current president of the WNY Chapter of Trout Unlimited, was recently honored with a special distinction within the fishing world – 2017 Conservationist of the Year as bestowed by the New York State Chapter of the American Fisheries Society. The recognition took place at the annual banquet of the group as they met for the first time in Buffalo on Feb. 2. The award is presented annually to “someone who has shown outstanding service and devotion to the protection and enhancement of New York’s fisheries and aquatic resources. Mike Clancy, DEC Region 9 Fisheries Manager, made the presentation.

Southtowns DU Banquet Feb. 25

The Southtowns Chapter of Ducks Unlimited will be holding its 39th Annual Banquet and Fundraiser on Saturday, Feb. 25 at Kloc’s Grove, 1245 Seneca Creek Road, West Seneca. Doors open at 6 p.m., dinner at 7:15 p.m., auction at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are limited. Call Ron Sheldon at 674-3075 or email him at A variety of ticket options are available. Check out Ducks Unlimited is one of the top conservation organizations in the world and the leader in wetland and waterfowl conservation. The group has conserved more than 13 million acres of habitat.

Niagara River Brown Trout

The lower Niagara River has never had a dedicated stocking for brown trout … until this year. Each year, dedicated stockings of brown trout are earmarked for destinations like Wilson, Olcott and Point Breeze in Niagara and Orleans counties. However, the Niagara River receives only bonus fish left over in the hatchery system. One year it might be 4,000 fish, the next it might be 12,000 fish. Thanks to efforts of Region 9 Fisheries Manager Mike Clancy, who has been fighting for a designated allocation, starting in 2017 the lower river will be receiving a stocking of 15,000 brown trout on an annual basis. In addition, the river will also receive up to 10,000 bonus brown trout – depending on what may be available in the hatcheries in any given year.

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