Pennsylvania Game Commission officials said bear hunters will be able to enjoy a new four-day statewide bear season, in addition to a full-week of archery bear season and a return of extended bear seasons in certain Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) during the first week of the firearms deer season.
The statewide archery bear season, which will be held Nov. 14-18, will lead up to the four-day statewide bear season, which will open on Saturday, Nov. 19, and then run from Monday through Wednesday, Nov. 21- 23. The extended bear seasons will be held in certain WMUs and portions of WMUs the following week during deer season.
In WMUs 3D, 4C, 4D, 4E, 5B and 5C, an extended bear season is open Nov. 30-Dec. 3. An extended bear season also will be held Nov. 28-Dec. 3 in the following:
All of WMUs 3A and 3C;
Portions of WMU 3B, that are East of Rt. 14 from Troy to Canton, East of Rt. 154 from Canton to Rt. 220 at Laporte and East of Rt. 42 from Laporte to Rt. 118, and that portion of 4E, East of Rt. 42; and
Portions of WMUs 2G in Lycoming and Clinton counties and WMU 3B in Lycoming County that lie North of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River from the Rt. 405 Bridge, West to Rt. 15 at Williamsport, Rt. 15 to Rt. 220, and North of Rt. 220 to the Mill Hall exit, North of SR 2015 to Rt. 150; East of Rt. 150 to Lusk Run Rd. and South of Lusk Run Rd. to Rt. 120, Rt. 120 to Veterans Street Bridge to SR 1001; East of SR 1001 to Croak Hollow Rd., South of Croak Hollow Rd. to Rt. 664 (at Swissdale), South of Rt. 664 to Little Plum Rd. (the intersection of SR 1003), South of SR 1003 to SR 1006, South of SR 1006 to Sulphur Run Rd., South of Sulphur Run Rd. to Rt. 44, East of Rt. 44 to Rt. 973, South of Rt. 973 to Rt. 87, West of Rt. 87 to Rt. 864, South of Rt. 864 to Rt. 220 and West of Rt. 220 to Rt. 405 and West of Rt. 405 to the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.
“Pennsylvania’s bear population covers more than three-quarters of the state, and includes a number of world-class trophy bears,” said Mark Ternent, Game Commission bear biologist. “This has earned Pennsylvania recognition as one of the top states for bear hunters. Every year, we have a number of bears exceeding 500 pounds included in the harvest.”
Since 1992, six bears with an estimated live weight of 800 pounds or more have been legally taken in Pennsylvania. The possibility of another 800-pounder being taken by a hunter is always in play when Pennsylvania’s bear season opens.
In 2010, hunters harvested 3,090 bears, which was the fifth highest harvest in Pennsylvania history. In 2005, hunters took a record 4,164 bears. Other recent harvests were: 3,075 in 2000; 3,063 in 2001; 2,686 in 2002; 3,000 in 2003; 2,972 in 2004; 3,122 in 2006; 2,360 in 2007; 3,458 in 2008; and 3,512 in 2009. Over the past ten years, hunters have taken more black bears than in any other decade since the Game Commission began keeping bear harvest records in 1915.
“Conditions this year are favorable for another record harvest,” Ternent said. “Bear populations are up in many parts of the state relative to past years, and hunter participation is expected to be good, based on the number of bear licenses being purchased. The only real unknown is if we will have favorable weather for hunters on opening day.”
Bears were taken in 54 counties last year, which was the same as 2008 and 2009, but an increase from 2007, when bears were taken in 49 counties.
The 2010 bear harvest by WMU for both the archery and three-day bear seasons, including 2009’s harvest results in parentheses, were: WMU 1A, 11 (8); WMU 1B, 42 (36); WMU 2A, 1 (0); WMU 2C, 307 (247); WMU 2D, 146 (128); WMU 2E, 94 (77); WMU 2F, 202 (282); WMU 2G, 894 (1,027); WMU 3A, 199 (255); WMU 3B, 234 (292); WMU 3C, 118 (73); WMU 3D, 284 (276); WMU 4A, 135 (125); WMU 4B, 55 (43); WMU 4C, 90 (141); WMU 4D, 245 (442); WMU 4E, 31 (58); and WMU 5C, 2 (1).
To participate in the archery and statewide bear seasons, hunters will need to have a general hunting license and a bear license, which they must purchase prior to Nov. 19, at which time bear license sales will temporarily be closed. Bear licenses then will be available to purchase from Nov. 24–27 for those planning to participate in extended bear seasons. Bear licenses are not part of the junior or senior combination licenses, and must be purchased separately.
All hunters who harvest a bear must immediately tag it with their field harvest tag that is part of the bear license, and, if during the statewide four-day season or the extended seasons, transport the carcass – minus entrails – to one of the Game Commission bear check stations within 24 hours, and present it along with their general hunting license and bear license. During the archery season, hunters should contact a Game Commission region office within 24 hours to have their bear checked.