The region’s black bears are at least as plentiful, but harder to find than last year.
A wet spring and summer has provided bountiful cover for big-game animals in much of the Inland Northwest.
The number of older black bears appears to be growing in North Idaho. Three years ago, the state eliminated bear hunting during the three peak harvest periods - Memorial Day weekend, Labor Day weekend and the opening of elk season.
“Since those season changes went into place, the harvest has declined 30 percent,” said Jim Hayden, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional wildlife manager. “There’s no shortage of bears, except possibly in the Unit 6 area (near St. Maries) were we still might have to make adjustments.”
Eastern Washington has a longer continuous season than North Idaho. However, Washington hunters have stricter regulations on the use of bait.
For instance, bait must be natural and unprocessed. No twinkies. Bait cannot be put afield longer than five days before the season opens.
Statewide, hunters killed 1,500 bears in Washington in 1993. Last year, under the new restrictions, the harvest was 1,000.
It’s also notable that much of Western Washington was closed to hunting for the early part of the season last year because of fire danger. Also, the number of black bear hunters declined, from 12,179 in 1993 to 11,530 in 1994.
East Side hunters appeared to cope with the new rules.
In the 10 easternmost counties, hunters killed 413 bears in 1993 and 414 last year.
The top bear producing unit last year was Douglas with 133 bears.
Despite regulations prohibiting baiting and hound hunting, hunters managed to take 45 black bears out of the special Selkirk grizzly bear recovery zone in the northeast portion of Pend Oreille County.
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: Know your bears The Idaho Fish and Game Department is urging bear hunters to be especially careful when they see bears in the Panhandle this fall. Nearly all hunters know the difference between grizzly and black bears, but a few among them apparently become so excited when they see a bear that they shoot first and identify later. Killing a grizzly is a federal offense that can result in fines of more than $10,000.