The 2021 Pennsylvania Bear Hunt was a good one, Outsiders! As a matter of fact, it will go down in the books as the state’s fifth-best harvest ever.
Officials with the Pennsylvania Game Commission just released the numbers for the 2021 bear hunting season. Turns out it was one of the best seasons ever recorded. The department announced that in total, there were 3,659 bears harvested across the state. That is the second-largest bear hunt that Pennsylvania has recorded since 2011, and the fifth-largest ever. The report also noted that bears were harvested in almost every single county across the state.
As for the single largest bear taken last year, one hunter was able to take down a 722-pound beast. While that is no doubt an impressive size, it falls more than 150 pounds short of the 2010 record of an 875-pounder. To be fair though, there have only been seven black bears harvested in Pennsylvania since 1992 that weighed in at over 800 pounds.
Emily Carrollo is a black bear biologist with the Game Commission. She touched on how black bears have been a resource for a long time for the folks in Pennsylvania.
“Pennsylvania has a long history of supporting a lot of black bears, many of truly impressive size, across most of the state,” she said. “Best of all, the future continues to look bright for this resource.”
It was just a couple of years ago, in 2019 to be exact, that the state had its largest bear hunt ever. During the combined seasons that year, Pennsylvanians harvested 4,653 bears — nearly a thousand more than the totals for 2021.
“Pennsylvania has been a popular bear hunting destination for years, and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon.”
For Second Year in a Row, Pennsylvania Black Bear Population Declines
It seems that the large bear harvests in 2019 and 2021 have had an effect on the local bear population. The Pennsylvania Game Commission revealed that the state’s bear population has declined for the second year in a row. However, according to Carrollo, it’s nothing to be concerned about.
“There is potentially an effect of having that really high harvest and noticing those decreases in the following two years,” Carrollo said. “This follows the life history [and] reproductive strategy of black bears.”
Thankfully, there is no need to worry about the bear population in The Keystone State.
“If we need to make changes, we will be able to make them accordingly and in an appropriate amount of time. In the simplest terms, we know the recipe to make more bears here in Pennsylvania. If it ever got to that point, which I am not concerned about whatsoever, we know how to change things around and adjust for the appropriate bear seasons.”