This is the golden age of bear hunting.
Since the Pennsylvania Game Commission began keeping records of statewide bear harvests in 1915, there has never been a more prolific period for Commonwealth black bear hunters.
Pennsylvania hunters harvested 3,529 bears in 2016, the fifth-highest tally in state history. To top it off, 60 of those bears weighed 500 pounds or more – 17 exceeded 600 pounds.
The 2016 overall bear harvest was similar to 2015, when 3,748 bears, including 68 weighing 500 pounds or more, were taken.
The all-time bear harvest high was recorded in 2011, when 4,350 bears were harvested. Hunters harvested 4,164 in 2005.
Hunters in 2016 harvested bears in 58 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, an increase of one county compared to 2015. Bears again were taken in 20 of the state’s 23 Wildlife Management Units (WMUs). The Northwest Region was the only one of the Game Commission’s six regions that had a harvest increase in 2016, compared to the previous year.
The largest bear taken in the harvest weighed an estimated 740 pounds. It was taken in Rayne Township, Indiana County, on Nov. 18 during the archery bear season by Dustin R. Learn, of Home, Pa. It was one of three bears taken by hunters that exceeded 700 pounds in the 2016 seasons. The three bears were the first to exceed 700 pounds since 2013. In 2011, Pennsylvania’s record harvest year, an amazing eight bears exceeding, 700 pounds were taken by hunters.