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 — down from 3,621 in 2021 — but still enough to rank the harvest as the 14th largest all time.
Pennsylvania’s all-time 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.
Among counties, Tioga County produced the most, giving up 187 bears last season. Lycoming County ranked second with 152, followed by Bradford and Luzerne counties with 126 each, Centre County with 122, Potter County with 119, Clearfield and Monroe counties with 114 each and Clinton County with 113.
Final county harvests in Northeast Region: Total 901 — Bradford, 126; Luzerne, 126; Monroe, 114; Pike, 84; Sullivan, 84; Wayne, 81; Carbon, 78; Lackawanna, 51; Wyoming, 50; Susquehanna, 47; Columbia, 46; Northumberland, 10; and Montour, 4.
Hunters and members of waterfowl organizations are invited to virtually attend the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Annual Waterfowl Briefing, which will be streamed live via the agency’s Facebook page, on Thursday, March 9, at 1 p.m.
The briefing will be recorded, and a link will be available to view online at pgc.pa.gov.
During the live briefing, Game Commission Waterfowl Program Specialist Nate Huck and Wildlife Operations Division Chief Ian Gregg will be discussing the proposed 2023-24 waterfowl hunting seasons, proposed regulations, proposed federal frameworks and the 2020 waterfowl hunter survey results. A question-and-answer session will follow the presentation.
“We’re looking forward to hosting the annual waterfowl briefing live on Facebook again this year,” said Huck. “Hosting the briefing online has allowed us to reach many more people. Those who are interested in learning more, and weighing in, on issues related to waterfowl hunting in Pennsylvania are encouraged to attend.”
Proposed 2023-24 migratory game bird seasons, as well as the 2020 waterfowl hunter survey results, will be posted online at pgc.pa.gov and can be accessed by searching, “Waterfowl Hunting and Conservation.” Those planning to tune in to the live briefing are encouraged to review the proposed seasons in advance.
Public comments on the proposed seasons can be submitted via email to [email protected] or via mail to Pennsylvania Game Commission, Bureau of Wildlife Management, 2001 Elmerton Ave., Harrisburg, PA 17110-9797, until March 19.
The Waterfowl Open House will take place on March 11 from noon-4 p.m. at the Game Commission’s Northeast Region Office. There will be the opportunity to interact with Game Commission staff and partnering organizations on a variety of waterfowl and wetlands related topics, discuss proposed seasons, hear research updates, and see a duck banding demonstration.
“The Northeast Region is excited to host the 2023 Waterfowl Open House and provide waterfowl enthusiasts and the public the opportunity to interact and learn more from Game Commission staff and partnering organizations who work to improve waterfowl populations and wetland habitats throughout Pennsylvania and beyond,” said Wildlife Management Supervisor Kevin Wenner.
With public comments and results of the 2020 waterfowl hunter survey considered, Game Commission staff will prepare and present the recommended 2023-24 waterfowl and migratory bird seasons, bag limits and related criteria to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for final approval.
All migratory bird hunting seasons and bag limits must conform to frameworks set by the USFWS. States select their hunting seasons within these established frameworks. Final seasons will appear in the 2023-24 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest, which hunters receive with the purchase of license.
North Branch Land Trust knows the importance of recognizing community and up-and-coming leaders in the natural settings right here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
In spring of 2022, Penn State student of Energy and Sustainability, Melissa Lopez reached out to North Branch Land Trust to develop her senior capstone project right here in her backyard.
Today, Lopez is part of the North Branch Land Trust team, taking an active role in NEPA conservation as Conservation and Land Stewardship Coordinator.
“We are thrilled to have Melissa join our team, said NBLT Executive Director Ferretti. “We cannot wait to hear all about her adventures exploring these great outdoor Preserves.”
Lopez told North Branch, “The outdoors has always been my happy place. As I became older, I realized more and more that the earth must be protected so future generations also have the ability to enjoy the beauty this world has to offer.”
Lopez initially developed Bio-Blitz events as a means to share her formal knowledge outside of academia and to encourage everyone to take active steps in mitigating the effects of climate change. Her capstone was a huge success, identifying approximately 450 species—including a trio of Pennsylvania threatened species.
Professor Brandi Robinson from Penn State University is excited to see her students out in the field, stating, “Having the chance to collaborate with local community partners like North Branch Land Trust provides our graduating Energy and Sustainability Policy students a unique opportunity to apply the concepts and skills they’ve cultivated in their classes out in their communities where they have broad and tangible impact.”
North Branch Land Trust’s Citizen Science Events have been made possible through the American Water Charitable Foundation 2022 Water and Environment Grant and support from North Branch Land Trust members. Community-focused charitable organizations are vital for nonprofits seeking innovation in the ways they impact the region.
“The American Water Charitable Foundation is committed to participating and investing in programs that benefit communities served by American Water,” said Carrie Williams, president, American Water Charitable Foundation. “We are proud to further American Water’s ongoing commitment to being a good neighbor and good steward of the environment.”
Citizen science projects like NBLT’s Bio-Blitzes, Cornell School of Ornithology’s Great Backyard Bird Count, Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Wild Turkey Survey not only encourage community passion for conservation, but also help academics and conservationists target limited resources in areas where they are most needed.
For more information or to support North Branch Land Trust, please visit nblt.org.
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn this week announced that $290,734 in Wild Resource Conservation Program grants have been awarded to eight projects aimed at protecting Pennsylvania’s native biodiversity.
“These projects play an important role in ongoing conservation work to protect vulnerable wildlife species that are affected by climate change, human impacts and other threats,” Dunn said. “As the state agency responsible for stewardship of our natural resources, DCNR supports projects of these types to protect and preserve our native wildlife resources for future generations.”
Overseen by DCNR, the program safeguards Pennsylvania’s non-game animals, native plants and their habitat. Grants are awarded in three areas: species surveys, conservation and management.
Visit DCNR’s website for more information on the specific projects.
Launched in 1982, Wild Resource Conservation Program encourages and supports research and protection efforts to conserve Pennsylvania’s diverse native wildlife resources, including bird and mammal species, amphibians and reptiles, insects and wild plants.
The Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission (PHMC) will celebrate the commonwealth’s 342nd birthday on Sunday, March 12, with a rare display of William Penn’s original charter at The State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg and free admission to many of the historic sites and museums along the Pennsylvania Trails of History.
Pennsylvania was created when England’s King Charles II granted a charter to William Penn in 1681. Once each year, the Pennsylvania State Archives exhibits the original document for a limited time at The State Museum of Pennsylvania.
The 342-year-old Charter is written on parchment using iron gall ink. The State Archives preserves the document in a high-security vault, shielding it from strong light and environmental fluctuations.
Admission to The State Museum is free on Charter Day, Sunday, March 12 only, and includes visits to the Planetarium, the Curiosity Connection and galleries. Free timed tickets are required for the Planetarium and the Curiosity Connection. Quantities are limited.
The Penn Charter will remain on display at the museum until 1 p.m., Friday, March 17, when the documents will be returned to the vault for another year.
In addition to programming at The State Museum, many historic sites and museums along the Pennsylvania Trails of History will offer free admission on Sunday, March 12.
Participating historic sites and museums include:
—Brandywine Battlefield Park, Chadds Ford
—Bushy Run Battlefield, Jeannette
—Conrad Weiser Homestead, Womelsdorf
—Cornwall Iron Furnace, Cornwall
—Daniel Boone Homestead, Birdsboro
—Drake Well Museum, Titusville
—Eckley Miners’ Village, Weatherly
—Ephrata Cloister, Ephrata
—Fort Pitt Museum, Pittsburgh
—Graeme Park, Horsham
—Joseph Priestley House, Northumberland
—Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum, Lancaster
—Pennsbury Manor, Morrisville
—Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum, Scranton
—Pennsylvania Lumber Museum, Ulysses
—Pennsylvania Military Museum, Boalsburg
—Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, Strasburg
—Somerset Historical Center, Somerset
For more information on the Penn Charter exhibit at The State Museum visit statemuseumpa.org.
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