Bear harvest sets record in North Carolina

The 2022 harvest totaled 4,056 bears.
The 2022 harvest totaled 4,056 bears.(North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission)
Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 1:45 PM EDT
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WITN) - The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s 2022 annual bear harvest totaled 4,056 bears - which is the highest total.

The Wildlife Resource reported that 2,533 bears were from the coast; 1,468 from the mountains; and 55 from the Piedmont. The report adds that the Piedmont harvest is the third highest recorded.

“The increase in the harvest in the Mountain BMU likely reflects the influence of the poor acorn crop we observed in the fall 2022 in this region,” said Colleen Olfenbuttel, the black bear & furbearer biologist for the commission. “Acorn production has been surveyed by the Wildlife Commission for 40 years and when acorn production is poor, bears will move more in search of fall foods, making them more vulnerable to both vehicle mortality and legal hunter harvest.

Other season results showed:

  • Statewide, most bears were harvested on private lands with 16% of the harvest occurring on Commission game lands.
  • In the Mountain MBU, 34% of the harvest occurred on Commission game lands.
  • Most successful hunters used the assistance of dogs for harvesting bears; however, the number of still hunters increased, with 41% of successful bear hunters reporting they used still hunting to harvest their bear in 2022. This is the highest percentage since the commission started requesting this information via the Big Game Harvest Report in 2009.