Bear season numbers falling short of past years

Since general season for bears opened in the state on Saturday the numbers are matching what the state Game Commission was thinking would be a big year but are falling short of last year’s reported harvests.

After the first day, Lycoming County led in the harvest with 106. After Tuesday, the second day of the season, Clinton County was leading with 143.  Also after the second day, the state Game Commission’s Northcentral Region had harvested around 820 bears.

Clinton County had 143, Lycoming County had 132, Tioga County had 125 and Centre County had 57 bruins bagged.

The state’s black-bear population jumped from about 18,000 to about 20,000 in time for the opening of the season, spokesman Travis Lau said in a release.

“The number of hunters buying bear licenses was on pace to break the previous record,” he said. “All of the pieces are in place for a historic bear season in Pennsylvania.”

On opening day of the season, 1,297 black bears were harvested, Lau said.

Statewide after two days, 1,893 black bears have been brought to weigh stations, according to preliminary totals released Tuesday by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

“The top 10 bears processed at check stations by Tuesday were either estimated or confirmed to have live weights of 550 pounds or more,” Lau said.

The largest of those bears was taken in Barret Township, Monroe County, at an estimated weight of 700 pounds.

The 2016 two-day preliminary harvest is a decrease compared to the 2,220 bears taken during the statewide season’s first two days in 2015 and with hunters heading out for the last time today, it’s expected to remain under last year’s numbers.