Bear Hunting: New Hampshire & Vermont Reporting Record-Breaking Season

by Madison Miller

Two more states have officially recognized just how popular the 2020 hunting season has been.

Due to more readily-available food sources, more bears showed up to eat up in Vermont and New Hampshire. This combined with the fact that more and more hunters surged into the woods led to a record-breaking number of bears being hunted.

The VPR and The Valley News editor, John Gregg, teamed up to talk about why there’s a surge in the animal being hunted.

“2020 was a bad year for many people and, unfortunately, bears. The numbers surged in Vermont the number of bears that were killed or taken into harvest … was 914, which is up 22% from the previous year and that’s clearly a statewide record,” Gregg said.

New Hampshire, which is quite known for its bear population, was no different in rising rates. In New Hampshire, it was up to 1,183 bears killed and that’s up 12% from the previous year’s statistics.

So, what is it that plays a role in this huge spike in hunting rates?

COVID-19 is likely the most recognizable factor. This unprecedented occasion has led to lifestyle changes and overall new patterns for people.

“People had more time to spend in the woods. People weren’t working as much or were working from home,” Greggs said.

Additionally, last summer a mandatory composting law went into effect. People were composting in their backyard, which led to more bear sightings.

Bears often will go into towns to search for human-provided food sources. This year more were seen in nearby towns. Bear patterns in the area have slowly been changing over time as less seek higher ground and instead choose to stay closer to towns.

Mink, a Community Icon

In more devastating news for 2020, the popular bear who once roamed Hanover and Lebanon with its litters of cubs died over the summer. This bear was popular in the region in which more bear sightings and killings are currently going on.

According to Concord Monitor, Gov. Chris Sununu once pardoned the bear. She was over 200 pounds and was well into her teenage years.

Reports seem to indicate that Mink died from being hit by a vehicle and suffering a broken leg as well as other complications.

She received national attention for her persistence toward human food. Despite being constantly relocated, she somehow always ended up in a town, ravaging through the trashes.

In fact, she traveled 100 miles with her cubs to get back to her home where the humans were.

While Vermont and New Hampshire haven’t voiced high concern over the bear death rate, other areas worry about how this increase in deaths can affect the environment.

For example, in Alaska, the high mortality rates have biologists concerned. There’s a new record for bears being killed. However, these deaths are attributed to the defense of property and life.

According to KHNS, the number of bears killed in Haines this year alone by law enforcement, hunters, and residents is more than 22. This is doubled where it normally would be this time of year. The mortality rate for 65 collared bears was 23%.

“This is extraordinarily high. The number of bears that Haines has lost this year is unprecedented. We didn’t see a lot of females with cubs of the year this year. It’s not like there’s a big batch of cubs coming forward the next few years. There is going to be a break in the cohort that I think we will see in the cohort for some time that starts this year,” Anthony Crupi, a biologist studying bear mortality rates in the area said.