Pennsylvania Bear Harvest Fifth-best Ever

Keystone State hunters record another high black bear harvest.

Pennsylvania Bear Harvest Fifth-best Ever

Pennsylvania black bear hunters had a banner year in 2021. Photo:

Pennsylvania hunters had another exceptional year in 2021, taking 3,659 bears across last year’s various seasons. That ranks as the state’s fifth-best harvest ever — the second-largest recorded since 2011 — and a slight increase over the 2020 harvest of 3,621 bears. The statewide regular bear season accounted for the largest part of the 2021 bear harvest, when hunters took 1,315 bears during that four-day hunt.

The extended bear season — which allows hunters to harvest bears throughout the opening weekend of deer season in some Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) — contributed 1,128 animals to the harvest. The archery bear season added another 680, while the muzzleloader/special firearms bear season harvest was 536 bears.

Pennsylvania hunters recorded their all-time best bear season in 2019, when they harvested 4,653 bears. That was the third time since 2005 that the harvest topped 4,000 animals. The others were 2011 (4,350) and 2005 (4,162).

That Pennsylvania continues to produce so many bears across so many seasons, year after year, speaks to the health of the state’s bear population, says Emily Carrollo, the Game Commission’s black bear biologist. “Pennsylvania has a long history of supporting a lot of black bears, many of truly impressive size, across most of the state,” Carrollo said. “Best of all, the future continues to look bright for this resource, too.”

According to the PA Game Commission, 215,219 people — 205,812 of them state residents — bought bear licenses in 2021. That was down slightly from 220,471 in 2020, but still the second-highest number of bear licenses ever sold in any one year. Sales totaled 202,043 in 2019, 174,869 in 2018 and, going back further, 147,728 in 2009.

The largest bear reported was a 722-pound male taken with a shotgun in the extended season, on Dec. 4, 2021, in Letterkenny Township in Franklin County, by Wade Glessner, of Shippensburg.

“Pennsylvania has been a popular bear hunting destination for years, and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon,” Carrollo said.


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