ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The early bear hunting season is about to begin in New York.

The Department of Environmental Conservation says the early season runs from Sept. 8-23 in parts of southeastern New York and from Sept. 15 to Oct. 12 in northern New York.

The agency says New York has between 6,000 and 8,000 bears in the wild. The numbers have increased in recent years and bears have become more widely distributed across the state, although most live in the Adirondacks and Catskills.

Regular big game hunting season for deer and bears begins on Oct. 20 in northern New York and Nov. 17 in the southern zone.