Pennsylvania bear numbers down

Pennsylvania reports its number of black bears has decreased — and that's acceptable, wildlife officials say.

HARRISBURG (TNS) — The black bear population across Pennsylvania is estimated at 16,268 by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

That’s a big drop from the estimate of 20,000 last year, and for several years before that.

But 16,268 is “an acceptable population for the state… a healthy population,” Emily Carrollo, the commission’s new black bear specialist, told the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners in its meeting on Saturday.

The commission has been attempting to reduce the state’s bear population through increasing opportunities for hunters to harvest the bruins for several years.

Carrollo said hunters killed 3,608 bears in 2020, which was down by more than a thousand from the 2019 harvest of 4,653, the state record.

Despite the decline, which often happens after a record-setting year, the 2020 harvest ranks as the 6th highest kill in the past 30 years.

Despite the decline, which often happens after a record-setting year, the 2020 harvest ranks as the 6th highest kill in the past 30 years.

After last year’s harvest of 4,653, the other year’s in the top 5 were 2011 with a harvest of 4,350, 2005 with a harvest of 4,164, 2015 with a harvest of 3,748 and 2016 with a harvest of 3,529.

According to Carrollo, the 2020 harvest rate was about 22 percent of the bear population, which was a similar rate to 2019. It also is “within historical range” and “within acceptable population management range.”

Interest in bear hunting in Pennsylvania also is up, she said. License sales last year were 220,471, up from a record 202,043 in 2019.

“It’s hard to comprehend what’s happening in Pennsylvania bear hunting, especially if you can recall when the Game Commission was trying to resurrect the Commonwealth’s bear population back in the 1980s and 1990s,” commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans said ahead of last year’s bear hunting season.

“It’s hard to comprehend what’s happening in Pennsylvania bear hunting, especially if you can recall when the Game Commission was trying to resurrect the Commonwealth’s bear population back in the 1980s and 1990s,” commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans said ahead of last year’s bear hunting season.

“But here we are, on the cusp of another fall loaded with bear-hunting opportunities and a robust bear population.

“Pennsylvania bear hunting has never packed as much widespread opportunity and excitement as it does right now. Today bears inhabit most counties, providing closer-to-home hunting. But their populations also remain strong on their primary range in the northern tier.”


(c) 2021 The Patriot-News (Harrisburg, Pa.)                        Visit The Patriot-News (Harrisburg, Pa.) at www.pennlive.com Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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