Pennsylvania’s bear harvest totals are in and hunters managed to make it the fifth largest harvest since 2011.
Hunters took 3,659 bears during the recent seasons. This compares to 3,621 bears harvested during the 2020 season. But it pales a bit compared to the 2019 season when 4,653 were taken.
Of this year’s total, the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) reports that the archery season contributed 680 to the recent seasons total, while the muzzleloader/special firearms season added 536.
According to the PGC, bears were taken in 59 of 67 counties and 22 of Pennsylvania’s 23 Wildlife Management Units.
The largest bear checked was a 722-pound male taken with a shotgun by Wade Glessner of Shippensburg during the extended season on Dec. 4, in Letterkenny Township, Franklin County.
The heaviest Pennsylvania bear ever taken was an 875-pounder taken in 2010 in Middle Smithfield Township, Pike County. Since 1992, seven bears weighing at least 800 pounds were harvested in Pennsylvania hunting seasons, says the PGC.
Other large bears taken in the 2021 seasons - all but one was taken with a rifle - includes a 681-pound male taken with a bow in archery season in Newport Township, Luzerne County; a 676-pound male taken in the regular statewide season in West Franklin Township, Armstrong County; a 649-pound male taken in the extended season in Spring Township, Snyder County; a 640-pound male taken in the regular season in Pike Township, Clearfield County; a 640-pound male in the extended season in Gamble Township, Lycoming County; a 614-pound male in the extended season in Penn Forest Township, Carbon County; with 605 and 602 pounders adding to the 600-pound and above list.
Top bear producing counties include Lycoming with 232; Potter with 180; Pike with 167; Tioga with 166; and Clinton with 156. Rounding out the top 10 counties were; Bradford County (136); Sullivan (127); Wayne (120); Centre (118); and Huntingdon (115).
As many Lehigh Valley area hunters likely hunt in the Northeast and Southeast regions, here is the harvest breakdown per county with last year’s harvest in parenthesis:
In the Northeast Region there were a total of 1,121 (988) bears taken from the following counties: Pike, 167 (105); Bradford, 136 (108); Sullivan, 127 (71); Wayne, 120 (100); Luzerne, 111 (125); Carbon, 103 (97); Monroe, 95 (152); Susquehanna, 77 (54); Wyoming, 66 (42); Lackawanna, 62 (56); Columbia, 36 (53); Northumberland, 16 (22); and Montour, 5 (3).
In the Southeast Region, there was a total of 156 (169) from: Schuylkill County, 61 (78); Dauphin 54 (37); Northampton, 13 (23); Berks, 12 (15); Lebanon, 8 (9); Lehigh, 6 (7); and Bucks, 2 (0).
When looking at the number of bears harvested in local WMUs, those totals are as follows: WMU 3D, 426 (409); WMU 4C, 224 (228); WMU 5B, 1 (0); and here in 5C, 10 (22).
If looking for a more productive county to hunt next bear season, these totals could serve as an indicator where the big bears are.
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.