Pennsylvania’s final bear harvest figures are in and the results show it was the sixth best bear season since the state-maintained harvest records.
According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC), hunters took 3,608 bears during the recent bear seasons. That reflects a 20 percent decrease over last year’s record harvest of 4,653.
The 2020 season breaks down as follows. During the archery bear season, that benefited from a one-week longer season, bowhunters set a new harvest record of 948 that broke the former record of 561 set in 2019.
As for the two-year old muzzleloader/special firearms season, that harvest slipped from 1,340 to 1,038, while the general firearms season harvest went from 1,629 to 1,170. The extended season, which the PGC points out is typically inconsistent, went from 1,117 to 432.
This recent harvest decline, often influenced by fall food availability, weather and hunter turnout, marks the second time in 20 years the bear harvest in back-back years has decreased by 1,000 or more bears, says the PGC.
More specifically, bears were taken in 59 of 67 counties and 22 of Pennsylvania’s 23 Wildlife Management Units in the 2020 season. Within that, the largest bear was a 719-pound male taken with a crossbow on Nov. 7 in Ayr Township, Fulton County by Abby Strayer of McConnelsburg. In comparison, the heaviest bear ever taken in Pennsylvania was an 875-pounder in 2010 in Middle Smithfield Township, Pike County. Since 1992, seven bears weighing at least 800 pounds have been harvested in Pennsylvania.
Other large bears taken in the 2020 bear seasons include: a 657-pound male taken with a muzzleloader in Lehman Township, Pike County, by Zachary Seip, of Schnecksville; a 656-pound male taken with a shotgun in Penn Forest Township, Carbon County, by Stephen Strzelecki, of Albrightville; a 633-pound male taken with a muzzleloader in Cooper Township, Clearfield County, by Mark Gritzer, of Clearfield; a 633-pound male taken with a muzzleloader in Stewardson Township, Potter County, by Conrad Miller, of Hanover; a 621-pound male taken with a rifle in Shrewsberry Township, Sullivan County, by Jeffrey C. Kratz, of Collegeville; a 610-pound male taken in Middle Smithfield Township, Monroe County, by Keith Davis, of Harrisburg; a 607-pound male taken with a rifle in Lake Township, Wayne County, by Seth A. Curtis, of Waymart; a 607-pound male taken with a rifle in Abbott Township, Potter County, by Robin Levengood, of Fleetwood; and a 607-pound male taken in Lehigh Township, Wayne County, by Joseph Sledzinski, of Lake Ariel.
Potter County finished with 188 bears to take the top county bear harvest. It was followed by Lycoming County, with 185. Other top counties for bear harvests in 2020 were: Tioga, 184; Clearfield, 157; Monroe, 152; Clinton, 149; Elk, 140; Luzerne, 125; and Carbon, 117.
Final local county harvests by region (with 2019 figures in parentheses) are: Northeast – 987 (1,228): Monroe, 152 (130); Luzerne, 125 (163); Pike, 105 (161); Wayne, 99 (131); Carbon, 97 (88); Bradford, 82 (128); Sullivan, 71 (87); Lackawanna, 56 (79); Susquehanna, 54 (82); Columbia, 53 (64); Wyoming, 42 (82); Northumberland, 22 (26); and Montour, 3 (7). Southeast – 170 (185): Schuylkill, 78 (79); Dauphin, 37 (67); Berks, 15 (17); Northampton, 23 (16); Lehigh, 7 (4); and Lebanon, 9 (2).
The final bear harvests by local Wildlife Management Units (with final 2019 figures in parentheses) were: WMU 3D, 408 (493); WMU 4A, 175 (308); WMU 4B, 112 (192); WMU 4C, 228 (254); WMU 4D, 234 (370); WMU 4E, 135 (139); WMU 5A, 13 (25); WMU 5B, 0 (1); WMU 5C, 22 (14); and WMU 5D, 1 (0).
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Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.