The state Department of Environmental Conservation is considering lengthening the black bear hunting season in Otsego, Delaware, Chenango and Schoharie counties as a way to help reduce the number of “home entry” incidents.

The proposed change would set the opening of bear season in the Catskills region on the same day, Saturday, Nov. 17, as the start of the regular deer season.

On Sept. 1, a Greene County resident found a sow and three cubs inside his home, according to the DEC.

The four bears fled, but on the same day a separate, male bear entered the same home twice. The owner hit the bear with a broom stick and it ran off, the DEC reported.

Between 2001 and 2003 there were an average of three to five home entry incidents recorded each year.

But over the following three years there were between 21 and 45 such incidents, according to the DEC.

The DEC reported deer hunters hitting the woods two days before bear season opens are driving bears deeper into the forest.

These bears are then more likely to avoid being shot when bear season opens.

Before the 1970s, deer and bear season began on the same day, but that practice was discontinued as the state sought to increase the bear population.

Since 1995, the statewide bear population has increased steadily, the DEC reports.

“The progress of the bear population since the 1970s has been a success story. But as numbers have continued to increase, the elimination of the two-day lag in hunting season is appropriate,” said DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis.

Public comments on the DEC’s proposal will be accepted until Oct. 22 and may be sent via email or regular mail to: Jeremy Hurst, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754 or jehurst@gw.dec.state.ny.us with “bear hunting” written in the subject line.

The regulation would apply to wildlife management units in all or parts of Rockland, Orange, Ulster, Sullivan, Greene, Albany, Schenectady, Schoharie, Otsego, Herkimer, Madison, Delaware, Chenango and Broome Counties.

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