Black Bear Hunting photo

With black bear numbers exploding in the East, encounters with humans are up significantly, according to the latest survey. But there’s an upside: This is a heck of a time to take up bear hunting (if your state allows it–sorry New Jersey).

From the Associated Press:

_The U.S. bear population more than doubled between 1989 and 2006, rising from 165,000 to over 350,000, according to The International Association of Bear Research and Management, a bear conservation nonprofit that takes a periodic census of the animals. The Eastern states alone now have about 163,000 bears, according to findings Hristienko released in May. . . .

_[Eighteen eastern] states reported an increase in bear-human conflicts over the past year . . . .

_Tennessee reported the largest increase, up from 300 to 1,000 over the past 10 years. That was followed by New York, which went from 587 to 1,127, and New Jersey, which jumped from 691 encounters to 1,117.

_”What we have seen throughout the eastern United States is quite a phenomenal range expansion of the black bear,” van Manen said. “With the range expansion, the likelihood of the encounters is increasing.”

Are you seeing more bears?