Bear population – at 20,000 – may be at a limit for state of Pennsylvania
During a discussion about the prospects of allowing bowhunters to take bears during the last week of archery deer season in November, Pennsylvania Game Commissioner Dave Putnam posed an intriguing question:
Putnam asked whether the bear population has exceeded the social carrying capacity in Pennsylvania. “We thought that it was about 18,000; we are now at about 20,000 – should the commission set some kind of limit?”
Commission bear biologist Mark Ternent replied that he would have liked to check the bear population at 18,000, but the low harvest in 2014 – just like the one in 2007 – triggered an increase.
“The difference between now and where we were in 2007 is that we now have a lot more of the state open to extended bear hunting, we have a much bigger archery season for bears and the statewide four-day season, so now with all the added hunting opportunity that was not available in 2007, we hope to get back to 18,000 bears.”
Putnam wondered whether allowing bear hunting during extended seasons during firearms deer season has resulted in less interest in the traditional four-day bear season.
Ternent doesn’t think so. “Even where we do have extended seasons, we don’t see a decline in the general bear hunting season participation, so I don’t think that we are really devaluing the general hunting season with the extended season at the moment,” he said.
“We see that interest is growing among bear hunters. We see increasing bear hunting license sales annually and three quarters of the bear harvest occurs in that season.”