The Daily Press
Hunters harvest 3,10 bears in 2022 seasons
HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania hunters harvested some tremendous black bears in the 2022 seasons, including three of more than 700 pounds and 11 more that topped 600 pounds.
Those were among 3,170 taken overall. That was down from 3,621 in 2021, but still enough to rank the harvest as the 14th largest all time.
Pennsylvania’s alltime best bear season came in 2019, when hunters harvested 4,653.
Hunters in 2022 took bears in 58 of the state’s 67 counties and 22 of its 23 Wildlife Management Units (WMUs).
Notably, the harvest was spread out – more evenly than ever before – over four seasons. Hunters took 737 bears in the archery season, 712 in the muzzleloader/special firearms season, 1,051 in the general season and 663 in the extended season. Another seven were taken in the early season.
That’s how things most likely will continue to look moving forward, said Emily Carrollo, the Game Commission’s black bear biologist.
“Our season structure allows hunters to pursue black bears across multiple months, using multiple tools, when opportunity best matches up with their availability,” Carrollo said. “They can hunt when they have the time off work or school or other responsibilities, which is good for them and helps us reach our management objectives.”
That’s attractive to lots of hunters, based on license sales.
In 2022, 213,639 individuals – 203,922 Pennsylvania residents, 9,717 nonresidents – bought a bear license. That was the third-most ever.
And hunters found some impressive bears.
The largest taken in 2022 was the 755-pounder harvested by Cory Bennett, of Toms River, N.J. He got it with a muzzleloader on Oct. 15 in Middle Smithfield Township, Monroe County.
The heaviest bear ever taken in Pennsylvania was an 875-pounder harvested in 2010 in Pike County. Since 1992, seven black bears weighing at least 800 pounds have been lawfully harvested in Pennsylvania hunting seasons.