NASHVILLE — Tennessee’s black bear harvest is hovering near the 400-mark for 2012, marking the eighth consecutive year that hunters have harvested more than 300 bears in the state’s bear-hunting counties, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency said.
The 2012 harvest stands at 397 after the state record of 581 in 2011. The previous two years saw 301 harvested in 2010 after the previous record of 566 was set in 2009.
Black bears were harvested in 11 East Tennessee counties during the recently completed season. Cocke County led the way with 85 bears, unseating Sevier County for the top county harvest. Monroe County was second for the second straight year with 64.
Polk County was third with 44, followed by Carter 41, Sevier 36, Unicoi 27, Greene and Johnson 26, Blount 24, Washington 15 and Sullivan 9.
Tennessee black bear harvest reports started in 1951. A total of 29 bears was harvested that year.
The state’s black bear population has been steadily increasing over the past 40 years as the result of several management practices put in place by TWRA. These practices include establishment of a series of bear reserves throughout the bear habitat, protection of females and cubs, and setting the majority of the bear hunting season later in the year when most females have gone to the den.