Pigskins aren't the only animal hide starting to fly this weekend. The Early Bear Season opens in parts of the Southern Zone this Saturday, September 7. Here's the latest DEC rules, regulations, and suggestions.

The early bear season runs from September 7 to September 22 in Wildlife Management Units 3A, 3C, 3H, 3J, 3K, 3M, 3P, 3R, 4P, and 4R. The early bowhunting season for bears will open in all of the Southern Zone on October 1, followed by the regular firearms season beginning November 16.

In northern New York, the early bear season runs from September 14 to October 18 in Wildlife Management Units 5A, 5C, 5F, 5G, 5H, 5J, 6C, 6F, 6H, and 6J. Bowhunting season for bears also begins on September 14, in the other Northern Zone units (6A, 6G, 6K, and 6N). Muzzleloader season then opens in all northern WMUs on October 19, followed by the regular firearms season for bears on October 26.

According to statistics, Central New York resides in between the two New York hot spots for Black Bear. The DEC estimates the New York Bear population to be 6 to 8 thousand with about 50-60% in the Adirondack region, 30-35% the Catskill region, and 10-15% the central-western region.

Last years bear harvest severely declined with a 40% or more drop in both zones. Poor food sources and early snows were blamed for the drop. The map below shows where the most bears were taken.

DEC.gov

Everything you need to know about Bear Hunting in New York, from regulations to best skinning and cooking methods, can be found in this DEC's Booklet.