HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Pennsylvania bear hunters set a new state record last fall.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission said hunters took 4,653 black bears, far above the 2018 bear harvest of 3,153.
The 2018 harvest was the 11th best all-time, but also the lowest bear harvest in the past 11 years.
The game commission wanted an increase, given an estimated bear population of about 20,000. statewide, and approved several a number of bear season changes. Agency biologist Mark Ternent said there were 30 days of bear hunting across all bear seasons in 2019, the first time that’s happened since 1931.
The state’s previous top bear seasons were in 2011, when 4,350 bears were harvested, and in 2005, when 4,164 were taken.
Hunters took 1,629 bears in the general season, 1,340 in the muzzleloader and special firearms seasons, 1,117 in extended firearms seasons, and 561 in the bear archery season. The muzzleloader, extended and archery harvests are all new record harvests, too.
The game commission said bad weather in recent years, particularly on opening days, have kept the bear harvest down.
“To have three independent bear seasons with harvests in excess of 1,000 is surely historic,” Ternent said. “But when a record 202,043 hunters buy licenses and can participate in the opening days of four seasons that weren’t impacted by poor weather, there’s always a great chance for hunter success to increase.”
The largest bear through all 2019 seasons was an 813-pound male taken in Monroe County with a rifle on the opening day of the general season.