Bear season in Pennsylvania to start Oct. 16

Regional News

(WTAJ)– Bear season for Pennsylvania starts on Oct. 16, and this year the PA. Game Commission is announcing additional dates that hunters can harvest bears.

Bear hunters this fall will be able to hunt in several distinctive seasons with a statewide three-week archery bear season, a one-week muzzleloader bear season with three days of rifle hunting for certain classifications of hunters including juniors and seniors and also statewide four-day firearms bear season that includes a Sunday.

Something brand new for 2021 is that hunters will now get the chance to hunt bears on the opening weekend of deer season both Saturday and Sunday, according to a press release from the Pennsylvania Game Commission. In the past Wildlife Management Units (WMU) normally allow bear hunting during the first week of statewide firearms deer season and even some units will allow it into the second week.

Nowadays more than 3,000 bears are hunted in PA compared to an average of only 398 in the six and half-decade time frame of 1915 and 1975.

Since 2005, there have only been three years where more than 4,000 bears were hunted with the record coming in2019 with 4,653. Out of the top 10 largest hunts for bears, nine of them have happened within the last 13 years with 2020 coming in at rank 6 with 3,621 total bears hunted and there is reason to believe that the trend will continue this year.

“We’ve got many, many black bears, including some of the biggest in the country, spread across the Commonwealth and within reach of hunters everywhere,” said Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans. “Plus, our various bear seasons give hunters the opportunity to pursue them in numerous ways throughout the fall.

“Pennsylvania has been a bear hunting destination for many, many years,” the Game Commission’s Bear Biologist Emily Carrollo said. “I don’t expect that to change. Despite large harvests in the past, we’ve still got plenty of bears, and lots of big ones, out there.”

She recommends that hunters looking for bears should first check food supplies such as apples or hard-mast crops like nuts from oak, hickory or bench trees.

The year 2020 saw a record number of 220,471 people purchased bear hunting licenses, with 211,627 of them being PA residents. It was recorded that out of 67 counties in PA, 59 of them had hunters find bears. Potter County had the most with 188 bears hunted and Clearfield was the most out of the Central Pa. area with 158 bears hunted.

The hunter success rate when hunting bears is typically either two or three percent, but with so many bears in so many places, just being in the woods gives hunters a better chance of filling a tag than at maybe any other time in the last century-plus.

Hunters that are interested in hunting bear in PA must have a general hunting license that can be purchased on HuntFishPA’s website or a mentored hunting permit and a bear license.

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