Would you dare hunt a bear?
Vermont has reported a record bear season in 2020, with hunters taking 914 bears as the sport’s popularity surges amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Hunters in the Green Mountain State harvested the record number last year, surpassing the previous record of 750 bears in 2019, The Associated Press reports. Forrest Hammond, a bear biologist with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, cited cabin fever as a contributing factor.
Despite the record number of bears taken in 2020, Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department bear biologist Forrest Hammond says the state is still on target to maintain a “large, healthy” population of the wild species.
“It was a poor year for natural bear foods, and we saw a surge in hunter numbers brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and perhaps a corresponding increase in the number of hunters spending more time in the outdoors hunting than in past years,” Hammond said.
Specifically, the department sold 24% more hunting licenses in 2020 than it did in 2019, the Milton Independent reports.
HOW 2020 HAS REVIVED THE ONCE-DYING SPORT OF HUNTING
Through the last decade, the average number of bears taken annually in Vermont hovered around 608. Despite 2020’s record year, Hammond explained that the 2020 outcome aligns with the department’s goal of keeping the bear population within 3,500 to 5,500 bears and also with its larger population objective for the years 2020-2030.
Through the last decade, the average number of bears taken annually in Vermont was 608.
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“We’ve got a large, healthy population of bears in the state,” the biologist told the outlet. “There’s no fear of eradicating them … We have more of a concern of declining hunters.”
“Bear management is needed,” Hammond continued. “[Otherwise] bears will become less wary of people, they’re learning to come into towns and access food more and more.”
Vermont is targeting its 2021 bear season to run from Sept. 1 to Nov. 21.
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Just across the border, neighboring state New Hampshire set a new bear-hunting record of its own, with 1,183 bears harvested in the 2020 season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.