Biologist says hunters may have productive early bear season

Posted Aug. 27, 2014, at 11:38 a.m.

Hundreds of hunters headed into the woods Monday for the opening day of the state’s bear season.

The season stretches through Nov. 29, with different methods allowed during different sessions. Hunters are allowed to still hunt or stalk bears from now through Nov. 29.

Other seasons:

— Aug. 25-Sept. 20: Hunters are allowed to hunt over bait.

— Sept. 8-Oct. 31: Hunters are allowed to use dogs.

— Sept. 1-Oct. 31: Trapping of bears is allowed.

Bait can be used to assist hunters with dogs, and trappers during their seasons, but sitting near bait and waiting for a bear is not allowed after Sept. 20.

According to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Maine is one of 32 states that allows bear hunting. Of those, 23 states allow hunting with bait, dogs or both.

Last year, more than 10,000 hunters bought permits that would allow them to take a bear, resulting in a total harvest of 2,845.

The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife says 90 percent of the bear harvest takes place during the first four weeks of the season, when the use of bait and dogs are allowed.

Here’s wishing this season’s bear hunters the best of luck.

And as always, if you end up with a good tale to tell, pass it along to us. We may share it with our readers.

Biologist expects good 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.”

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.”

Hennessey book launch set

Last week, I told you about Tom Hennessey’s new book, “Leave Some for Seed.”

If you’re interested in getting your hands on a copy and saying hello to the author, you’ll get that chance Thursday.

The public is invited to a book launch party for “Leave Some For Seed” from 6-8 p.m. at the Penobscot County Conservation Association Clubhouse on North Main Street in Brewer.

Hennessey says he’s not particularly fond of formal book signings, but this event surely will be different: The PCCA is on his home turf, in his hometown, more or less.

I say “more or less,” because we Brewer natives realize that many who grew up south of Wilson Street — as Hennessey did — are prone to describe themselves, proudly, as hailing from South Brewer.

Either way, Hennessey will surely be surrounded by friends and fans who’ve been following his columns and appreciating his artwork for generations.

It promises to be a fantastic event.

Bear referendum town hall

On Sept. 4, BDN Maine outdoors colleague Aislinn Sarnacki and I will travel to Portland for a town hall-style debate over the bear hunting referendum.

The debate will be hosted by CBS13 and the BDN and will be broadcast live on CBS13 and on the BDN website, bangordailynews.com, at 7:30 p.m.

A limited number of audience seats are available for the debate, which will take place at CBS13’s Portland studio. If you’re interested in having a spot in the audience, you can apply via the following link: http://wgme.com/news/features/vote/townhall/#.U_TlMfldV8E

John Holyoke may be reached at 990-8214 or jholyoke@bangordailynews.com.

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