HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The Pennsylvania Game Commission says record numbers of black bears and hunters, along with one of the most-abundant red-oak acorn crops in memory, could make for a historic bear season.
The bear population has jumped from about 18,000 to about 20,000 bears, and the number of hunters buying bear licenses is on pace to break the previous record, according to a Game Commission news release.
Officials added that the state’s red-oak acorn crop is the biggest they’ve seen since 2001. They say years where acorns are abundant tend to see higher bear harvests.
Game Commission bear biologist Mark Ternent said with food readily available, bears have less reason to hibernate before bear season and they don’t need to travel as much to find food. He said bears that hunters find while scouting before the season are likely to be found in the same areas on opening day.
Pennsylvania’s all-time largest bear harvest occurred in 2011, when 4,350 bears were harvested.
Bear archery season opened Nov. 14. The four-day general season begins Saturday and ends Wednesday, Nov. 23.