Pennsylvania

Bear hunting in Pennsylvania looks promising in 2023: Here’s the 2022 stats | WTAJ

(WTAJ) — Bear hunting season looks promising in Pennsylvania as the game commission looks back at some impressive 2022 stats.

While the odds of bagging a bear can seem long — somewhere between 1.5% and 2.5% of bear license holders get a bear any given year — 2022’s numbers give 2023 hunters some hope.

In Pennsylvania, there are an estimated 15,000 bears roaming out in the woods. The 2023 seasons are long and varied but offer lots of opportunities, including hunting on three Sundays.

Believe it or not, a whopping nine hunters born back in the 1930s harvested a black bear in 2022. One of them, 96 years old, took his first bear after 82 years of hunting.

“Most hunters, 43%, only ever harvested one bear,” Game Commission black bear biologist Emily Carrollo said. “But 11% harvested five or more bears in their lifetime, and 1.5% harvested more than 10 bears in their lifetime. The average number of bears harvested per hunter in a lifetime was 1.5.”

2022 Bear Harvesting Numbers

Last year, during the 2022 season, hunters harvested 3,170 bears overall. That was down from 3,621 in 2021, but still enough to rank the harvest as the 14th largest all-time.

Pennsylvania’s all-time best bear season came in 2019 when hunters harvested 4,653.

Last year hunters got bears in 58 of the state’s 67 counties and all but one Wildlife Management Unit (WMU). Notably, the harvest was spread out – more evenly than ever before – with seven taken in the special early archery season, 737 taken in the statewide archery season, 712 in the muzzleloader/special firearms seasons, 1,051 in the general season and 663 in the extended season.

The largest bear harvested in 2022 was a 755-pound bear with a muzzleloader Oct. 15 in Middle Smithfield Township, Monroe County. The heaviest bear ever taken in Pennsylvania was an 875-pounder harvested in 2010 in Pike County.

Other large bears taken in 2022 were:

  • 746-pounder taken with a rifle on Nov. 22 in Barrett Township, Monroe County
  • 705-pounder taken with a muzzleloader on Oct. 15 in Middle Smithfield Township, Monroe County
  • 693-pounder taken with a rifle on Oct. 20 in Abbott Township, Potter County
  • 681-pounder taken with a muzzleloader on Oct. 22 in Bradford Township, Clearfield County
  • 681-pounder taken with a bow on Oct. 21 in Cumberland Valley Township, Bedford County
  • 657-pounder taken with a rifle on Oct. 22 in Gallagher Township, Clinton County
  • 650-pounder taken with a rifle on Nov. 21 in Hazle Township, Luzerne County
  • 634-pounder taken with a rifle on Nov. 27 in Asylum Township, Bradford County
  • 633-pounder taken with a muzzleloader on Oct. 22 in Cummings Township, Lycoming County

Hunting Schedules

The archery bear season in WMUs 2B and 5C and 5D – which surround Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, respectively – began on Sept. 16. It runs through Nov. 24, including two Sundays, Nov. 12 and 19.

The statewide archery bear season kicks off Oct. 14 and runs through Nov. 4 in all other WMUs.

Muzzleloader hunters can pursue bears statewide from Oct. 14 to 21, while the statewide special firearms bear season for junior and senior license holders, active-duty military and disabled persons’ permit holders runs Oct. 19 to 21.

The general statewide firearms bear season goes from Nov. 18 to 21, including Sunday, Nov. 19.

Bear hunters get one last chance in a few WMUs still later, in the extended firearms bear season that overlaps with the statewide firearms deer season. A hunter with a valid bear license can take a bear from Nov. 25 through Dec. 2, including on Sunday, Nov. 26, in WMUs 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4C, 4E and 5A, and from Nov. 25 through Dec. 9, including Sunday, Nov. 26, in WMUs 2B, 5B, 5C and 5D.

Hunters should be aware extended season bear hunting no longer is permitted in WMUs 1B, 2C, 4A, 4B and 4D, as was the case last year. The Game Commission no longer needs the season to meet its bear management objectives in those units, Carrollo said.

Through all of those seasons, the limit is one bear per hunter per year.

Final county harvests by region (2021 number in parentheses):

Northwest – 502 (451): Warren, 88 (87); Jefferson, 81 (72); Clarion, 80 (60); Venango, 79 (81); Crawford, 52 (38); Forest, 51 (44); Butler, 40 (43); Erie, 20 (13); and Mercer, 11 (8).

Southwest –253 (247): Somerset, 64 (58); Armstrong, 50 (58); Cambria, 44 (19); Fayette, 34 (49); Indiana, 31 (12); Westmoreland, 25 (41); Greene, 3 (3); and Allegheny, 2 (7).

Northcentral – 1,028 (1,220): Tioga, 187 (166); Lycoming, 152 (212); Centre, 122 (118); Potter, 119 (180); Clearfield, 114 (94); Clinton, 113 (156); Elk, 85 (80); McKean, 52 (107); Cameron, 52 (68); and Union, 32 (39).

Southcentral – 355 (464): Huntingdon, 81 (115); Bedford, 71 (82); Mifflin, 34 (55); Blair, 33 (39); Fulton, 31 (47); Perry, 29 (42); Juniata, 26 (36); Franklin, 18 (17); Snyder, 15 (12); Cumberland 8 (8); Adams, 7 (10); and York, 2 (1).

Northeast – 901 (1,121): Bradford, 126 (136); Luzerne, 126 (111); Monroe, 114 (95); Pike, 84 (167); Sullivan, 84 (127); Wayne, 81 (120); Carbon, 78 (103); Lackawanna, 51 (62); Wyoming, 50 (66); Susquehanna, 47 (77); Columbia, 46 (36); Northumberland, 10 (16); and Montour, 4 (5).

Southeast – 131 (156): Schuylkill, 65 (61); Dauphin, 27 (54); Lebanon, 14 (8); Northampton, 12 (13); Berks, 11 (12); and Lehigh, 2 (6).

The Pennsylvania Game Commission reports that in 2022, 213,639 people – 203,933 Pennsylvania residents and 9,717 nonresidents – bought a bear license. That was the third-most ever.

Carrollo said the odds of that interest going away anytime soon are slim, certainly slimmer than the chance of harvesting a bear.

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“Our season structure allows hunters to pursue black bears across multiple months, using multiple tools, when opportunity best matches up with their availability,” Carrollo said. “That’s good for them and good for helping us reach our management objectives.”

https://www.wtaj.com/news/pa-outdoors/bear-hunting-in-pennsylvania-looks-promising-in-2023-heres-the-2022-stats/ Bear hunting in Pennsylvania looks promising in 2023: Here’s the 2022 stats | WTAJ

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