Preliminary Black Bear Harvest Third Best Ever
Hunters last week took 174 black bears during the extended bear season in Carbon, Monroe and Pike counties, according to a preliminary review of Pennsylvania Game Commission harvest reports. When combined with the earlier statewide three-day season held just prior Thanksgiving week, it brings the preliminary bear harvest total to 2,654, the state's third best on record.
Based on preliminary reports, Pike County narrowly passed Lycoming County for honors as the state's top bear harvest county with a bear kill of 225. Lycoming had 224, followed by Clinton with 179. Clinton had led the Commonwealth for the past three years.
Pike County's bear harvest during three-day statewide season was 143, and during the extended season it was 82, for a total of 225; Monroe County's three-day total was 67, and extended season was 49, for a total of 116; and Carbon County's three-day total was 59, and extended season was 43, for a total of 102.
"If this holds following the review of all harvest reports, it'll be the first time Pike County has led the state since 1975," noted Game Commission Executive Director Vern Ross. "To be fair, though, Pike County achieved this positioning over Lycoming and Clinton counties - the state's perennial top-bear-harvest leaders - because bear season was extended an extra week there to address the growing number of bear complaints from the communities and resort areas of the Poconos.
"Pike County's substantial harvest, as well as the additional bears taken in Carbon and Monroe counties, mark a successful beginning to the agency's efforts to more intensively manage bear in areas where they've become exceedingly plentiful and established nuisances."
The proposal to establish a second bear season in Carbon, Monroe and Pike counties was developed by the Game Commission's Nuisance Black Bear Management Committee, which was created in response to growing complaints about bear conflicts with residents. The committee recommended this special bear season in a report to the Board of Game Commissioners at its October 2001 meeting.
Rural residential areas, particularly in the Pocono Mountains where developments have been springing up at a brisk pace for some time, were recognized by the committee as places where bear conflicts were either rapidly becoming a problem or mushrooming into an intolerable nuisance.
"This situation has resulted from varied factors such as the state's expanding bear population, constructing housing developments in prime bear range and residents intentionally feeding bears, which has prompted some bears to develop undesirable habits and dependencies," noted Mark Ternent, Game Commission bear biologist.
"The fact that numerous people were increasingly having unwanted close encounters with bears in the Poconos spurred the agency's Nuisance Black Bear Management Committee to recommend a season extension to reduce a growing concern about bear complaints. We expect this sizeable harvest to help reduce property damage costs, agency manpower demands to respond to bear complaints and undesirable close calls with bears. But it won't eliminate bear conflicts. That's simply not possible when you live in bear country."
Hunters took three bears that were 600 pounds or larger during the extended season in the Poconos. A total of a dozen bears that exceeded 600 pounds were taken during the three-day and extended bear seasons. The largest was a male bear that weighed 761 pounds (estimated live weight) taken the first day of season, Nov. 25, in Luzerne County's Foster Township by Earl J. Cichy Jr. of Freeland. Other top bears - all listed with estimated live weights - are:
- 721-pound male taken in Pike County's Dingman Township on Dec. 2 at
11:45 a.m. by Michael M. Sliker of Dingmans Ferry;
- 686-pound male taken in Pike County's Lehman Township on Dec. 2 at 7:30
a.m. by Dale R. Bastian of Bushkill;
- 670-pound male taken in Monroe County's Hamilton Township on Dec. 2 at 7
a.m. by George R. Daransky of Stroudsburg;
- 642-pound male taken in Huntingdon County's Todd Township on Nov. 26 at
8 a.m. by Joshua L. Cutchall of Robertsdale;
- 629-pound male taken in Luzerne County's Bear Creek Township on Nov. 26
at 7 a.m. by Michael X. Shovlin of Pittston;
- 625-pound male taken in Lackawanna County's Thornhurst Township on Nov.
26 at noon by Andrew R. Mosley of Wilkes-Barre;
- 620-pound male taken in Elk County's Benezette Township on Nov. 25 at
7:15 a.m. by Rick R. Mancuso of St. Marys;
- 618-pound male taken in Clinton County's Gallagher Township on Nov. 25
at 1:05 p.m. by James S. Watson of Altoona;
- 614-pound male taken in Huntingdon County's Jackson Township on Nov. 26
at 10 a.m. by David A. Peachy of Belleville;
- 604-pound male taken in Lycoming County's Mifflin Township on Nov. 25 at
11:30 a.m. by Paul D. Edwards of Jersey Shore; and
- 603-pound male taken in Bradford County's Terry Township on Nov. 25 at 3:15 p.m. by Randall S. Johnson of Wyalusing.
After the Game Commission's Bureau of Wildlife Management has an opportunity to review all harvest reports, the agency expects to issue a final bear harvest report by the end of December.