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Good Opener Pushes Bear Harvest Toward Record
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 11/26/2019

Bear hunters started Pennsylvania's statewide four-day black bear season last Saturday with good weather and a preliminary harvest of 1,015 blacks bears.

Over the past two years, bear hunters have had some bad luck with weather, which has held down the harvest in Pennsylvania and helped maintain a bear population of around 20,000.

But this year, bear hunters are off to a fine start in Penn's Woods.

Although the 2019 opening-day harvest is lower than last year's -- 1,241 bears, it raises the total Pennsylvania bear harvest to 2,886 when combined with a slate of earlier bear seasons including muzzleloader, special-firearms and archery. The 2017 general bear season opener produced a preliminary harvest of 659; which became one of the lowest on record for a four-day season.

Pennsylvania's best opening day preliminary harvest occurred in 2011 when 1,936 bears were taken. The state record bear harvest also occurred in 2011 when 4,350 bears were taken. Currently, Pennsylvania is on a pace that could exceed that record.

For perspective, the 2018 bear harvest came in at 3,153 bears, 11th-best all-time.

Other previous first-day statewide bear harvest totals were 1,297 in 2016; 1,508 in 2015; 1,623 in 2014; 1,320 in 2013; 1,320 in 2012; 1,936 in 2011; and 1,751 in 2010.

Bears have been harvested in 50 counties on the statewide general season opener.

The top 10 bears processed at check stations by Monday were either estimated or confirmed to have live weights of 491 pounds or more. All were taken on the opening day.

The largest of those bears -- a male estimated at 813 pounds -- was taken in Smithfield Township, Monroe County, by Victor M. Vassalluzzo, of Kintnerville. He took it with a rifle at 7:15 a.m.

The second largest bear was a 747-pound male taken by J. Kripp Jr., of Mountaintop. Harvested in Wright Township, Luzerne County, at 7 a.m., the bear was taken with a rifle.

Other large bears taken in the season's opening day -- all taken with a rifle -- include: a 623-pound male taken in Beech Creek Township, Clinton County, by Mikael J. Catanese, of Sewickley; a 620-pound male taken in Miles Township, Centre County, by Reuben Kennel, of Turbotville; a 604-pound male taken in Gallagher Township, Clinton County, Steven Z. Rohrbach, of Lock Haven; a 593-pound male taken in Genesee Township, Potter County, by Timothy J. Peskie, of Uniontown; a 526-pound male taken in Cromwell Township, Huntingdon County, by Matthew R. Miller, New Oxford; a 510-pound male taken in Oswayo Township, Potter County, by Donald Z. Detwiler, of Telford; a 506-pound male taken in West Buffalo Township, Union County, by Allen S. Weaver, of Lewisburg; and a 491-pound male taken in Benezette Township, Elk County, by Mark L. Brennen, of St. Marys.

The preliminary first-day bear harvest by Wildlife Management Unit was as follows: WMU 1A, 9 (15 in 2018); WMU 1B, 27 (68); WMU 2A, 2 (5); WMU 2C, 46 (85); WMU 2D, 66 (83); WMU 2E, 24 (46); WMU 2F, 121 (120); WMU 2G, 194 (208); WMU 2H, 39 (46); WMU 3A, 65 (67); WMU 3B, 90 (71); WMU 3C, 32 (29); WMU 3D, 113 (90); WMU 4A, 55 (94); WMU 4B, 25 (44); WMU 4C, 34 (58); WMU 4D, 65 (77); WMU 4E, 7 (32); and WMU 5A, 1 (3).

The top bear-hunting county in the state on the first day of the season was Tioga County, with 76. It was followed by Lycoming County with 64.

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