PA: Enormous bear taken by bowhunter in Pike

Harrisburg – A bowhunter killed an enormous black bear Nov. 15
in Pike County near the border with Monroe County that will likely
change the state’s record book.

David Price, 46 of Cresco, Monroe County, took the male bear
with a crossbow on the first day of the commonwealth’s week-long,
statewide archery bear-hunting season on Delaware Water Gap
National Recreation Area land just north of Fernwood Resort.

The huge bruin’s estimated live weight was 875 pounds (dressed
weight of 742 pounds), according to a spokesman for the
Pennsylvania Game Commission.

That makes it the largest bear ever recorded in the state, more
than 10 pounds heavier than a 864-pound (estimated live weight)
bear taken by Douglas Kristiansen, then a resident of Milford, in
2003.

That bruin was killed in Dingman Township, Pike County.

Some are even claiming that it is the second heaviest black bear
ever taken by a hunter in the world.

But it is too soon to declare the just-harvested heavyweight a
new state record, according to a spokesman for the Game
Commission.

“The official Pennsylvania big-game records are based on skull
measurements following Boone and Crockett methods, so weight is not
something we consider as part of our records,” said Jerry Feaser,
agency press secretary.

And huge body size doesn’t always equate with immense skull
size. For example, the bear taken by Kristiansen in 2003 ranks as
fourth in the state records, even though it was the heaviest. The
state-record bear was considerably lighter.

“In fact, the Pennsylvania state- record bear, taken in 2005 by
Andrew Seaman, was actually eighth on the estimated live-weight
listing,” Feaser explained. “It weighed an estimated live weight of
733 pounds. But it had the largest skull.”

A bear’s weight can fluctuate considerably from season to
season, Feaser pointed out. “A bear can lose a considerable amount
of weight while in the den over the winter,” Feaser said.

“If food sources are not as plentiful when the bear comes out of
the den, it may not recover the weight lost. The skull will remain
the same size.”

“Still I would presume, based on the sheer size of the bear,
that it would be a record,” Steve Schweitzer, northeast region
director of the Game Commission, told a newspaper reporter. “But
that’s just a guess.”

Game Commission bear biologist Mark Ternent said recently that
he believed the state currently has more bears than at any time in
modern history, and he noted that he would not be surprised if
hunters recorded a record harvest if weather conditions were
favorable.

Two changes in bear-hunting regulations this year may affect
harvest numbers. First, the archery season was changed to a week
and made statewide, and the traditional firearms season opened on a
Saturday rather than a Monday.

No matter what, it seems the biggest bears come from the Poconos
and the northeast region. “The Poconos was one of the last holdout
areas for traditional bear range when bear numbers were very low
decades ago,” Feaser said.

“It has swampy areas that bears can get down into and hunters
have trouble getting accessing.

“The habitat there is excellent for bears because it offers lots
of berries and other foods they need. So you have bears that are
able to get the kind of nutrition as well as age needed to attain
trophy size.”

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