Pennsylvania Bear Harvest Falls in 2023

Numbers for all hunting seasons and methods are among the lowest totals in more than 15 years.

Pennsylvania Bear Harvest Falls in 2023

Photo: Alex Dugquem

Initial numbers from the 2023 Pennsylvania bear season show a decline in harvest from last year. Preliminary figures show that hunters tagged 2,914 bears for the entire season, a number that likely will rise after all reports are submitted. If the number doesn’t top 3,000, it will be the first time since 2007 that hunters killed fewer than that number.

Pennsylvania Game Commission officials estimate the state has about 15,000 black bears. Hunters killed 2,363 bears in 2007 and a record 4,653 in 2019. Hunters killed 3,170 bears in 2022 and 3,621 the year before.

Wildlife officials require hunters to report bear kills at check stations. The bears are weighed, measured, and officials take teeth for aging. Hunters this past season brought in five bears weighing more than 600 pounds; the biggest was 691 pounds, from Pike County. The others came from Schuylkill, Lakawanna, Monroe, Carbon and Northampton counties. Pennsylvania’s record black bear is 875 pounds, from Pike County in 2010.

The top five counties in 2023 for harvest were Tioga (176), Lycoming (169), Potter (154), Pike (142) and Bradford (137). These numbers might increase with final reports. Five bears were killed during the early archery season that opened September 16 in three WMUs.

Hunters killed the most bears (1,231) during the combined archery, muzzleloader and special firearms season. Statewide firearms season saw 1,086 bears killed during the three-day hunt. Opening day of that season, November 18, was the biggest of the season with 699 bears reported by hunters.


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