The four-day Pennsylvania bear season got off to a slow start, and harvest numbers were down all across the state. Preliminary figures from the Pennsylvania Game Commission stated that hunters took …
The four-day Pennsylvania bear season got off to a slow start, and harvest numbers were down all across the state. Preliminary figures from the Pennsylvania Game Commission stated that hunters took 747 bears on the opening Saturday of the rifle season. This number is lower than 300 bears as compared to last year's opening day harvest of 1,044.
The 2nd day harvest of 175 bears was 140 lower than last year. This was the first time that the 2nd day of the bear season occurred on a Sunday, one of the three Sundays that were added to the fall hunting seasons this year. The bear harvest during days three and four were nearly the same as last year.
Other factors that may have contributed to a lower bear take, hunters had to deal with a steady rain drizzle that started early and lasted until mid-afternoon on the opening day that might have been a deterrent on some hunter's plans to get out for afternoon bear drives.
Bears were harvested in 58 of PA's 67 counties this year. The top six counties thus far are Potter-186, Lycoming-185, Tioga-181, Clearfield-157, Clinton-149 and Monroe-149.
Ten bears taken had an estimated live weight of over 600 pounds, with the heaviest bear weighing 719 pounds.
The combined totals from the statewide archery, muzzleloader and special firearms seasons were 69 more bears than last year's record take. The November firearms season saw hunters harvest 1,169 bears, approximately 450 less than last year.
As of this writing, hunters bagged an additional 415 bears during the extended season, which ran concurrently with the firearms deer season in 12 wildlife management units. This brings the preliminary 2020 total to 3,573 bears. The final bear harvest figures have yet to be calculated.
Although the early bear season produced a record number of bears, fewer were harvested during the rifle and the extended season. It would have been an amazing feat to have two record-breaking bear seasons in a row, but the fact is this is very difficult to accomplish.
Unless there are major problems with the Game Commission's preliminary bear take figures, the 2020 bear harvest will likely rank as the sixth highest on PA's bear take records.
Jack Danchak is the President of the Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs of Sullivan County.