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BEAR HUNTERS POST STATE’S SIXTH-BEST HARVEST

02/02/2021

HARRISBURG, PA - Pennsylvania’s hunters took 3,608 black bears in the 2020 seasons, the state’s sixth-best bear harvest ever.

While the harvest is about 20 percent lower than last year’s record harvest of 4,653 bears, it aligns with the annual average of 3,675 bears taken over the past five seasons, and it’s the second-highest harvest in that period.

In the bear archery season, which benefited from a one-week-longer season, bowhunters set a new harvest record of 948, breaking the former record of 561 set in 2019. Harvest numbers in the other bear seasons fell, which is not uncommon. The two-year-old muzzleloader/special firearms seasons harvest slipped from 1,340 to 1,038, the general firearms season harvest went from 1,629 to 1,170; and the extended season harvest, which typically is inconsistent, went from 1,117 to 432.

Often influenced by fall food availability, weather and hunter actions, bear harvests historically have changed abruptly from one year to the next. The harvest decline from 2019 to 2020, marks the second time in 20 years the bear harvest in back-to-back years has decreased by 1,000 or more bears. The annual bear harvest also has increased by 1,000 bears four times over the same period.

Three times in the past 20 years, Pennsylvania’s annual bear harvest has exceeded 4,000 bears. In each subsequent harvest year, the harvest dropped by hundreds of bears. After the record harvest of 4,311 in 2011, the harvest dropped to 3,632; after 2005’s record harvest of 4,164, the harvest slipped to 3,124 in 2006.

“This ebb-and-flow has appeared in Pennsylvania bear harvests for the past century,” noted Emily Carrollo, Game Commission bear biologist. “It’s the nature and reality of bear hunting.”

The agency will analyze factors that might have affected last fall’s bear harvest in the months to come through surveys, field work and research projects, Carrollo said. That work seeks out hunter preferences, examines fall food availability and measures the effectiveness of the state’s slate of bear seasons on black bears, particularly pregnant females.

 

HARVEST REPORT

Bears were taken in 59 of 67 counties and 22 of Pennsylvania’s 23 Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) in the 2020 season.

The largest bear through all 2020 seasons is the 719-pound male taken with a crossbow on Nov. 7 in Ayr Township, Fulton County, by Abby Strayer, of McConnellsburg.

The heaviest bear ever taken in Pennsylvania was an 875-pounder harvested in 2010 in Middle Smithfield Township, Pike County. Since 1992, seven black bears weighing at least 800 pounds have been lawfully harvested in Pennsylvania hunting seasons.

Other large bears taken in the 2020 bear seasons include: a 657-pound male taken with a muzzleloader in Lehman Township, Pike County, by Zachary Seip, of Schnecksville; a 656-pound male taken with a shotgun in Penn Forest Township, Carbon County, by Stephen Strzelecki, of Albrightville; a 633-pound male taken with a muzzleloader in Cooper Township, Clearfield County, by Mark Gritzer, of Clearfield; a 633-pound male taken with a muzzleloader in Stewardson Township, Potter County, by Conrad Miller, of Hanover; a 621-pound male taken with a rifle in Shrewsberry Township, Sullivan County, by Jeffrey C. Kratz, of Collegeville; a 610-pound male taken in Middle Smithfield Township, Monroe County, by Keith Davis, of Harrisburg; a 607-pound male taken with a rifle in Lake Township, Wayne County, by Seth A. Curtis, of Waymart; a 607-pound male taken with a rifle in Abbott Township, Potter County, by Robin Levengood, of Fleetwood; and a 607-pound male taken in Lehigh Township, Wayne County, by Joseph Sledzinski, of Lake Ariel.

Potter County finished with 188 bears to take the top county bear harvest. It was followed by Lycoming County, with 185. Other top counties for bear harvests in 2020 were: Tioga, 184; Clearfield, 157; Monroe, 152; Clinton, 149; Elk, 140; Luzerne, 125; and Carbon, 117.

Final county harvests by region (with 2019 figures in parentheses) are:

Northwest – 472 (557): Warren, 86 (146); Venango, 84 (80); Jefferson, 76 (65); Forest, 61 (69); Clarion, 59 (65); Butler, 42 (44); Crawford, 41 (65); Erie, 18 (16); Mercer, 4 (7); and Lawrence, 1 (0).

Southwest – 258 (347): Somerset, 69 (124); Fayette, 43 (62); Armstrong, 56 (58); Indiana, 29 (42); Cambria, 24 (29); Westmoreland, 32 (29); Allegheny, 3 (2); and Greene, 2 (1).

Northcentral – 1,305 (1,609): Potter, 188 (174); Lycoming, 185 (284); Tioga, 184 (267); Clearfield, 157 (103); Clinton, 149 (267); Elk, 140 (101); Centre, 117 (146); McKean, 87 (129); Cameron, 61 (80); and Union, 37 (54).

Southcentral – 416 (731): Huntingdon, 90 (180); Bedford, 82 (156); Perry, 36 (68); Juniata, 34 (42); Fulton, 31 (80); Franklin, 31 (47); Mifflin, 30 (54); Blair, 29 (40); Snyder, 20 (25); Cumberland, 6 (27); and Adams, 7 (11).

Northeast – 987 (1,228): Monroe, 152 (130); Luzerne, 125 (163); Pike, 105 (161); Wayne, 99 (131); Carbon, 97 (88); Bradford, 82 (128); Sullivan, 71 (87); Lackawanna, 56 (79); Susquehanna, 54 (82); Columbia, 53 (64); Wyoming, 42 (82); Northumberland, 22 (26); and Montour, 3 (7).

Southeast – 170 (185): Schuylkill, 78 (79); Dauphin, 37 (67); Berks, 15 (17); Northampton, 23 (16); Lehigh, 7 (4); and Lebanon, 9 (2).

The final bear harvests by Wildlife Management Unit (with final 2019 figures in parentheses) were: WMU 1A, 22 (20); WMU 1B, 119 (167); WMU 2A, 9 (11) WMU 2B, 6 (3); WMU 2C, 175 (292); WMU 2D, 190 (189); WMU 2E, 74 (82); WMU 2F, 277 (351); WMU 2G, 626 (712); WMU 2H, 141 (111); WMU 3A, 199 (268); WMU 3B, 272 (427); WMU 3C, 170 (224); WMU 3D, 408 (493); WMU 4A, 175 (308); WMU 4B, 112 (192); WMU 4C, 228 (254); WMU 4D, 234 (370); WMU 4E, 135 (139); WMU 5A, 13 (25); WMU 5B, 0 (1); WMU 5C, 22 (14); and WMU 5D, 1 (0).

MEDIA CONTACT: Travis Lau - 717-705-6541

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