Considering it is the third most densely populated state in the county, it might be difficult to comprehend that Massachusetts has a sizeable black bear population. By most indications numbers are increasing and bears continue to expand their range to some of the more populated central and eastern regions of the state. Wandering males have been reported in Brookline and other municipalities surrounding Boston and east to Cape Cod, and bears are known to be present and breeding in Worcester and Middlesex Counties and perhaps Essex County in the Northeast. As a result, hunting seasons have been expanded and more Wildlife Management Zones have been opened to bear hunting providing hunters with more opportunities.
But it wasn’t always this way, at least not in modern times. Following the Second World War, just a few hundred bears roamed the Berkshires along the western border with New York, supported by an unknown number of occasional transients from neighboring New Hampshire, Vermont and New York. Due to fledging numbers, the first regulated bear season wasn’t initiated until 1952. Permit holders killed a total of three bears in 1975. Along with reducing the hunting season to six days, a one bear per calendar year was put in place in 1970 and ten bears were killed in 1981, a record number at that time. As bear numbers continued to increase reaching an estimated 1,500 in the 1990s and 3,500 in 2005, the split hunting season in September and November in the we