The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is reminding successful bear hunters to submit a bear tooth so wildlife managers can collect information on Vermont’s bear population. The late bear season begins on November 16, when many hunters will be out in the woods pursuing white-tailed deer.
Teeth submitted by hunters are used to determine the age of the bear. Department staff use age and sex data to get an estimate of the number of bears in the state and to determine the status and health of the bear population. Envelopes for sending in the teeth are available at hunter check stations.
“The pre-molar tooth we’re asking hunters to extract is actually quite small and easy to loosen with a knife,” said Forrest Hammond, bear project leader for the Fish & Wildlife Department. “Directions for removing the tooth are on the back of the envelope provided by the check station and are also on our website, including a short YouTube video.”
According to Hammond, bear foods such as beech nuts, acorns and apples are plentiful in the woods this year. Previous years with high food availability have usually resulted in a lower bear harvest in September and October, and a higher bear harvest during the November deer season.
Vermont now has two bear hunting seasons. The early bear hunting season, which requires a special bear tag, started September 1 and continues through November 15. The late bear season begins November 16 and continues through November 24. A hunter is still allowed to take only one bear per calendar year.
The bear tag that comes with a hunting license is for use during this late season. This season has been extended four additional days during the November deer season. The change in seasons was instated to help better manage Vermont’s bear population, which is now estimated at roughly 6,000 bears.
“Carefully regulated hunting plays a very important role in wildlife management by helping to control the growth of the black bear population,” said Hammond. “Minor fluctuations in the bear population will always occur due to changes in food availability, winter severity and hunter success. Despite these fluctuations, we look at the long-term trends to manage for a healthy, robust population.”
Media Contacts: Forrest Hammond, 802-885-8832; Scott Darling, 786-3862; Mark Scott, 802-583-7194