34 Bears Shot On Inaugural Middle Georgia Hunt

Amazingly, all 34 bears came from Twiggs County — none from Houston or Bibb.

John Trussell | December 1, 2011

Chad Proctor, of Williamson, killed a 310-lb. bear from his Twiggs County club that had an ear tag. It was put in the bear’s ear in 2006 in Houston County when the bear was 3 years old and weighed 209 pounds. At 9 years old, Chad’s bear weighed 310 pounds.

Middle Georgia’s first bear hunt in recent times was held on Nov. 12, 2011 in Bibb, Twiggs and Houston counties, and this bear hunt marks a significant success story for Georgia wildlife recovery efforts. Hunting by early pioneers nearly wiped out the bears in central Georgia. But the legally protected population very slowly grew in numbers in Ocmulgee and Oaky Woods WMAs, and now their numbers are estimated to be around 300. Recently DNR decided, after public input, to hold the one-day bear season in the three counties on private lands. Ocmulgee and Oaky Woods WMAs remained closed to bear hunting.

According to Bobby Bond, senior wildlife biologist for Region 4, hunters killed 34 bears. The largest weighed 436 pounds and was taken by Cody Berta, of Gray. Very surprisingly, there were no bears killed in Houston or Bibb counties. All the bears were killed in Twiggs County around  the Tarversville area.

Of the harvested bears, Cody’s bear was the only one that weighed more than 400 pounds. Two bears weighed 365 and 310 pounds, and all the others weighed under 300 pounds.

Also surprisingly, only two tagged bears were harvested on the hunt. From 2003-06, WRD tagged 85 bears, and it’s believed that an estimated 24 of those bears are still alive.

Another bear hunt is scheduled for Nov 10, 2012. Bobby said the harvested bears represent about 10 percent of the total population, which is close to the maximum number which can be harvested without harming the population. He is a little worried that 50 percent of the harvest was females, and they all came from a relatively small land area of Twiggs County. Bears normally must be in the 3- to 5-year-old range to successfully breed, thus a large harvest of sows is detrimental to the long-term health of the population, especially the small 300 bear population of central Georgia.

John Bowers, WRD’s assistant game chief, said the Game Management section would carefully study the results to determine if any changes are necessary.

Mark Boddy’s 250-lb. bear was the largest sow taken on the one-day hunt, and it came from the Whiteway Plantation in Twiggs County.

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