Vermont hunters took a record number of bears this year


Christopher Saunders started hunting when he was 12 years old. Now he carries on the tradition with his children. 

“My father hunted, I grew up among hunters, it’s always been a part of my lifestyle,” Saunders said. 

Saunders hunts for the natural source of meat, and recently, he started hunting bears. 

“Yeah I could go to the grocery store but I don’t know where that meat came from, I don’t know what’s in it, this way I know where that bear came from,” Saunders said. 

Bear hunting season started in September and wrapped up in November. During this time farmers struggled with bears causing damage to their crops. 

“When you’re talking about hundreds of acres of corn the farmer becomes limited on what they can actually do to discourage these bears and that’s where hunting plays in,” Saunders said. 

Fish and Wildlife’s Black Bear Biologist, Forest Hammond, said there was an increase in people buying hunting and fishing licenses in 2020. 

“In the case of bear hunting, we actually saw the number of bear licenses increase by 24% this year,” Hammond said. 

Hunters took a record breaking amount of bears. 

“The number was a little higher than we expected; it was 914 which is the highest harvest Vermont has had in the past,” Hammond said. 

The hunting season results are consistent with the goal of maintaining the bear population to within 3,500 to 5,500 bears.

“It’s well within that now. This was a little higher harvest this year probably [and] next year it will be a lower harvest because of it,” Hammond said. 

The pandemic gave Saunders and many other people the opportunity to do things that they normally might not have the time to do. 

“There’s a lot of horrible things associated with the pandemic, but my ability to get outside will always be remembered fondly,” Saunders said.

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