Bear biologist expects productive early season

As hunters begin their seasons, I checked in with wildlife biologist Randy Cross of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to find out what kind of season they might expect.

As it turns out, the news is good.

“I’m wicked excited about the season opening,” Cross said in an email. “All reports that I have been getting are good so far for active baits.”

Cross said conditions will be favorable for hunters.

“Having the season start on the dark of the moon (new moon) is a bonus,” Cross wrote. “Also, it looks like bears are entering their hyperphagia stage (around the clock feeding — mostly on natural foods, of course, but [with an] increased bait interest as well) early this year.”

After being trapped by Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologists, a 246-pound female black bear looks toward human visitors in 2010. The bear was trapped and later released as part of the state's ongoing bear research project. BDN photo by Bridget Brown

After being trapped by Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologists, a 246-pound female black bear looks toward human visitors in 2010. The bear was trapped and later released as part of the state’s ongoing bear research project. BDN photo by Bridget Brown

That’s another bonus, Cross explained, because this year’s bear season is taking place as early as it can under the current statutory guidelines. The season always starts on the last Monday in August, Cross pointed out. Next year, that means the season will start Aug. 31; this year, it started Aug. 25.

“I expect some big bears to be harvested and a higher harvest than last year — probably well over 3,000,” Cross wrote.

But there is a tradeoff to the early season and to the fact that bears already are feeding voraciously in preparation of heading to their dens.

“Hunters using dogs and traps, and deer hunters [who are also allowed to target bears that they may encounter] may have a tougher time finding bears later in the season,” Cross said. “I expect many bears to den in October this year [because of] a scarcity of foods late in the season.”

 

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John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.