- Associated Press - Saturday, December 24, 2016

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - New Hampshire’s Fish and Game Department says this year’s bear hunting season was strong, and the results were good for deer and turkey, too.

Officials say the bear season concluded at 898 bears, which was 34 percent above the preceding five-year average of 668 bears. This harvest also was 19 percent above the 2015 level.

They say the increased bear numbers this year was the result of a strong population that has recently experienced slight growth in select regions; a continued shift by hunters toward using methods that yield higher success rates; concentrated fall food sources such as acorns, and extended hunting opportunities in select regions in 2016. Some areas also have bear hunting seasons that overlap with the deer hunting season.

“The fact that the majority of the statewide harvest came from the White Mountains and Central regions dovetailed well with current bear population management goals,” said Andrew Timmins, Fish and Game Department’s bear biologist. He noted that that those two management regions require a reduction in bear density to meet recently revised population management goals.

The unofficial deer kill was 10,702, down 2 percent from the 2015 final kill of 10,895. Based on this estimate, the 2016 total represents the 7th highest kill in the last nine years and is very similar to the 20-year average of 10,912.

“With nearly 11,000 deer taken by hunters, it has been another very good season overall in New Hampshire,” deer biologist Dan Bergeron said. He noted that the physical condition of deer was good again this year, and that quite a few very large bucks were harvested, including a 266-pound buck taken in Success. That one made the top 10 list of biggest bucks ever harvested in the state.

Preliminary numbers also show hunters also took 1,047 turkeys this fall, just a few more than in 2015.

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