“The Law Enforcement Section of the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division is dedicated to supporting our sportsmen and conserving Georgia's wildlife. Our mission is to conserve our natural resources and protect the people we serve through fair and vigorous law enforcement.
“On behalf of our conservation rangers, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to our partner agencies in Operation Something Bruin. This operation is a good example of how state and federal agencies collaborate and work together. Just because there’s a state line does not mean Georgia is not communicating with sister agencies in adjoining states. For this investigation,we had the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the National Park Service all working together.
“One key impact of Operation Something Bruin is that we identified poachers who may not have been identified through the use of uniformed officers. This operation has given our officers insight into how various groups are communicating and operating across state lines. It will have a long-lasting effect in safeguarding wildlife across state lines by the ripple effect generated. Poachers should receive a clear message that we will use every tool at our disposal to apprehend them.
“This operation also reinforces the need for the public to assist with our mission. Conservation officers cannot be everywhere. The public can be a great asset by reporting poaching and suspicious activity. In Georgia, this can be done through our Turn in Poachers program at 1-800-241-4113 or www.georgiawildlife.com.”
The black bear is a symbol of Georgia’s natural diversity, the only bear found in our state and a high-priority species in Georgia’s Wildlife Action Plan, a comprehensive conservation strategy. Though now considered the most common bear in North America, the species was nearly eradicated from Georgia by the 1930s because of unregulated market hunting, poaching and habitat loss. Sound management has restored Georgia’s black bears to a thriving population estimated at 5,100.
Black bears commonly are found in three areas of the state - the north Georgia mountains, the Ocmulgee River drainage system in central Georgia and the Okefenokee Swamp in southeastern Georgia. However, black bears can range over larger areas, especially in early spring and late summer, when natural food sources are scarce. Young male bears also disperse to establish their own territory.
Each year, thousands of hunters pursue bears in the three Georgia bear zones -- northern, central and southern – where bear hunting is legal. The mountain bear harvest fluctuates mainly according to the rise and fall of seasonal food sources such as acorns. The 2011 harvest was a record 690 bears.Preliminary data indicates a harvest topping 350 in 2012, when food was more abundant and bears were less concentrated.
In general, resident bear hunters 16 or older must have a valid hunting and a big game license. Hunting over bait is illegal. Use of dogs is allowed only in the southern zone. Complete regulations and hunting seasons are included in the annual regulations guide, available online at www.georgiawildlife.com. For more information about black bears, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/BlackBearFacts,contact a DNR Wildlife Resources Division Game Management office or call (770)918-6416. The public can also check out the informational DVD “Where Bears Belong: Black Bears in Georgia” at their local library.