Plentiful bear hunting opportunities in Pennsylvania have boosted harvest and participation.
This fall’s black bear season resulted in the third largest harvest that Pennsylvania has seen, Pennsylvania Game Commission bear biologist Mark Ternent told Bob Frye of the Wild Outdoors Blog. A total of 3,748 bears were harvested during the 2015 season. More than 175,000 bear licenses were sold, which is a state record.
Not only did hunters have a banner season in harvest totals and participation, but they harvested some truly big bears. 68 bears topped the scale at over 500 pounds, 18 came in at over 600 pounds, and two bears weighed over 700 pounds!
These numbers are unchallenged by any other state east of the Mississippi, Ternent told the Wild Outdoors Blog. Certainly the four different seasons, which allow for more hunting opportunities, have helped.
Extended seasons have increased hunter participation phenomenally. Depending on the wildlife management unit, hunter participation has increased anywhere from 20 to 120 percent.
Beginning the regular firearms season on a Saturday, rather than on a Monday like it was previously, seems to have also helped. When the change was first implemented, license sales increased by nine percent, Ternent said. Additionally, most bears are now harvested on that first Saturday of the regular season.
Even with the increased harvest and increased participation, the overall bear population is quite healthy.