Bear hunters had success in Warren County woods

A full tally of bears taken in Warren County during the state’s four-day regular season is not available yet, but preliminary numbers for the first three days are.

The four-day general bear hunting season started Saturday, Nov. 23, then ran from Monday, Nov. 25, to Wednesday, Nov. 27.

A Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) statement issued on Nov. 26 lists a count of 130 bears harvested in the county in the first three days. The Warren County harvest was higher than any other county in the Northwest region with Jefferson County reporting 63; Venango County, 60; Clarion County, 46; Forest County, 44; Crawford County, 31; Butler County, 24; and Erie County, 4.

The PGC reports a three-day total across the state of 2,308 bears, which stands to increase when tallies for the rest of the four-day season are added. The three-day preliminary harvest for the 2012 season was 2,442 and a four-day total of 3,632, the third largest harvest in state history.

The 2011 total harvest of 4,350 bears was an all-time record harvest.

The top ten bears recorded in the state by Monday all exceeded 557 pounds, with the largest bear recorded at the time tipping the scales with an estimated weight of 772 pounds taken in Covington Township, Lackawanna County.

A growing bear population, which the PGC estimates now numbers between 16,000 and 18,000, has expanded hunting opportunities in recent years and contributed to the large harvests.

Mark Ternent, PGC bear biologist, says the combination has helped created a “sweet spot” in time for in-state bear hunting.

“In Pennsylvania’s history, there’s never been a better time to hunt bears,” he said. “Nowadays it’s getting increasingly harder to identify our so-called best bear hunting counties, because opportunities are becoming increasingly better throughout so much of the state.”