Pennsylvania hunters may not have brought in as many bears as last year, but they still had a pretty good bear hunting season.
In fact, the 2020 season was the sixth-best harvest in the state’s history, the Pennsylvania Game Commission said Tuesday.
According to the commission, Pennsylvania hunters took 3,608 black bears during the 2020 season. Though that number is 20% lower than the 2019 season — when hunters harvested 4,653 black bears — the 2020 season is Pennsylvania’s second-highest harvest over the last five years.
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The Pennsylvania bear archery season was a particular success, which saw a record harvest of 948 bears, compared to the previous record of 561 bears, which was set in 2019. The 2020 bear archery season did have an extra week compared to previous years, the Pennsylvania Game Commission noted.
Meanwhile, other bear seasons saw declines in the 2020 harvest, according to the commission.
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The two-year-old muzzleloader/special firearms seasons only had 1,038 black bears harvested, compared to 1,340 in 2019 and the general firearms seasons had only 1,170 black bears compared to 1,629 in 2019.
The most inconsistent season was the extended season harvest, which only saw 432 bears harvested, compared to 1,117 bears in 2019.
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The Pennsylvania Game Commission said it is normal to see abrupt changes in harvests from year to year because of “fall food availability, weather and hunter actions.”
“This ebb-and-flow has appeared in Pennsylvania bear harvests for the past century,” Emily Carrollo, a bear biologist with the state’s Game Commission, said in a statement. “It’s the nature and reality of bear hunting.”
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The Pennsylvania Game Commission also reported that the largest bear harvested during the 2020 season was a 719-pound male that was taken with a crossbow in Fulton County in November.
The largest bear to be hunted in Pennsylvania’s history was an 875-pound bear that was harvested in 2010 in Pike County.