Last years black bear harvest was low, but weather permitting, the Pennsylvania Game Commission expects hunters to have good opportunities for the upcoming bear seasons.

Pennsylvanias black bear population has numbered 14,000 to 15,000 for at least eight years now, said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. Because our bear population now covers almost three-quarters of the state, and includes a number of world-class trophy bears, Pennsylvania has become one of the top states for bear hunters. Every bear hunter heads afield in Pennsylvania knowing they have a chance to see a bear and to possibly take a huge one that weighs 700 to 800 pounds.

Weather impacted the opening day of last years traditional three-day November bear season, but hunters still took 2,360 bears by the time the states slate of bear seasons closed. The opening day is almost always the best day of any season, because hunter participation is generally the highest.

The 2007 bear harvest compares with 3,122 in 2006, and 4,164 in 2005, the states best bear kill. Already in this decade, which still is not completed, hunters have taken more black bears than in any other decade since the Game Commission began keeping bear harvest records in 1915.

Our black bear population is a remarkable resource, said Mark Ternent, Game Commission black bear biologist. Every year since 2000, more than 100,000 hunters have headed afield in pursuit of bears, with harvests exceeding 3,000 bears most years, yet many local bear populations across the state have remained stable or increased. Its a good time to be a bear hunter.

Pennsylvanias primary bear season is three days, statewide, just prior to Thanksgiving from November 24th to the 26th. There also is a two-day archery bear season that runs November 19th and 20th in Wildlife Management Units 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 3A, 4A, 4B and 4D. Additionally, concurrent with the first week of the firearms deer season, there is an extended season that is open December 1-6, in WMU 3C and portions of 3B, 2G and 4E; and December 3-6, in all of WMUs 4C, 4D and 4E.