Pennsylvania’s bear season falling short of expectations

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — With just a day remaining in Pennsylvania’s primary firearms season for black bear, hunters have fallen well short of a record harvest.

According to statistics posted on the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s harvest-tracking website, 2,361 bears have been harvested statewide. Last week, the Game Commission predicted the 2016 harvest could be of ‘epic’ proportions due to the combination of a record high bear population, licensed hunters, and a wildly robust crop of red-oak acorns adorning the forest floor this fall.

The record Pennsylvania bear harvest occurred in 2011 when 4,350 animals were harvested. With the current bear population standing at approximately 20,000 and upwards of 175,000 licensed bear hunters primed to hit the woods, Game Commission biologists felt a harvest of 5,000 bears would be both possible and sustainable. The agency explained that a healthy bear population has been proven to easily withstand a reduction of 25 percent annually.

According to the harvest tracking website, the largest bear of 2016 weighed 740 pounds and was killed in Indiana County. The ratio of adult male to adult female bears harvested stood at almost exactly even at 40.4 percent and 40.6 percent respectively. Slightly more juvenile male bears were harvested than juvenile females.

As of Tuesday evening, Clinton County reported the highest number of successful bear hunters, with 179. Most Midstate counties also produced bears, including Perry (28), Juniata (28), Dauphin (24), Mifflin (20), Franklin (13) and Cumberland (4).

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