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Sightings are bear-ly believable


There is a connection between the recent bear sightings and oak trees.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission is responding to dozens of bear sightings and complaints every day.

A mother bear and two cubs were reportedly making their way through backyards in West Wyoming and Wyoming.

A 600-pound male, originally trapped and relocated to northern Wyoming County, raised havoc in Edwardsville.

It was apparently on its way back to Nanticoke. That’s where it was trapped a few months ago.

I have written about the Urban Black Bear Study underway in the Wyoming Valley.

Pennsylvania Game Commission Wildlife Conservation officers and Biologists are trapping and radio collaring as many bear as they can to learn as much as they can about their habits. It turns out that many of them have adapted well to living near heavily populated communities.

The stories of black bear roaming the streets of our area used to be far and few between. Now it happens on a regular basis.

Much of the bear issues could be traced back to human encroachment. We have built houses, high-ways and shopping centers in the areas where black bears used to call home.

Many of the areas are posted and not opened to hunting. Hunting has been the best proven method for managing bear populations. If hunters can’t get to the bears, the population will surely grow and so will the problems.

The other issue at hand is the loss of food sources for the bear population. When you cut down trees to build parking lots and structures, you automatically take away some of the food sources utilized by bruins and other wildlife.

This is a typically bad year for bear food and possibly one of the reasons for the increased number of bear complaints.

The acorn crop is all but non-existent in most areas of the state. I have noticed that even the deer are looking elsewhere for food since there are no acorns in the oak stands.

Whatever the reason, the Game Commission is desperately trying to learn more about the urban bear population and how to better manage it.

Since hunting has always been the best management tool, reworking the seasons and hunting opportunities are a top priority.

It all starts tomorrow, Monday, November 11, when a statewide archery bear season begins. This four day season runs until Friday, November 18.

The four day rifle season then begins on Saturday, November 19, and runs from Monday through Wednesday, November 21, 22 and 23.

There will also be an extended bear season in certain Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) and portions of other Wildlife Management Units during the following week of deer season.

Just based on the bear sightings, warm weather and overall populations it should be another successful bear harvest.

Mark Ternent is the Black Bear Biologist for the Pennsylvania Game Commission and he agrees. “Conditions this year are favorable for another record harvest,” Ternent said. “Bear populations are up in many parts of the state relative to past years, and hunter participation is expected to be good, based on the number of bear licenses being purchased. The only real unknown is if we will have favorable weather for hunters on opening day.”

In 2010, hunters harvested 3,090 bears, which was the fifth highest harvest in Pennsylvania history.

The record setting harvest was the 2005 season when hunters took a record 4,164 bears.

Other recent harvests were: 3,075 in 2000; 3,063 in 2001; 2,686 in 2002; 3,000 in 2003; 2,972 in 2004; 3,122 in 2006; 2,360 in 2007; 3,458 in 2008; and 3,512 in 2009.

Over the past ten years, hunters have taken more black bears than in any other decade since the Game Commission began keeping bear harvest records in 1915.

We live in Wildlife Management Unit 3B and last year hunters tagged 234 black bears by the end of the season.

If you plan on participating in the archery and/or statewide bear seasons, you will need to have a general hunting license and a bear license. These must be purchase prior to the opening day of the regular bear season, Saturday, November 19.

Hunters can once again purchase bear licenses in time for the extended season. They will go back on sale from November 24 to November 27.

It is important to remember that bear licenses are not part of the junior or senior combination licenses, and must be purchased separately.

Many mistakes are made in the field after the harvest.

The Game Commission wants you to remember that all hunters who harvest a bear must immediately tag it with their field harvest tag that is part of the bear license.

If your harvest takes places during the statewide four-day season or the extended seasons, you must then transport the field dressed carcass to one of the Game Commission bear check stations within 24 hours.

Be sure to have both your general hunting license and bear license with you.

During the archery season, hunters should contact a Game Commission region office within 24 hours to have their bear checked.

Be Sure To Watch

WNEP’s Pennsylvania Outdoor Life and Hoover Tractor of Mifflinburg have teamed up to giveaway a KIOTI MECHRON 2200 UTV.

This two seat diesel powered machine is strong, safe and reliable.

It is perfect for getting in and out of the woods as well as hauling wood or hunting equipment. The contest, now in week two, is called the KIOTI KRAZY contest and it’s not too late to enter.

It’s simple to enter.

Watch PENNSYLVANIA OUTDOOR LIFE tonight and next Sunday at 6:30 to collect four clues.

The clues will appear in the form of scrambled names of animals found right here in Pennsylvania.

Collect and unscramble any four clues and send them to us on the back of a postcard along with your name, address and phone number.

Postcards must arrive at the WNEP studios by the end of business day on November 23.

The winner will be chosen on PENNSYLVANIA OUTDOOR LIFE on Sunday, November 27, (that’s the night before the buck season).

All of the rules can be found at WNEP.com.

Don’t forget to watch tonight and have a great day!

In 2010, hunters harvested 3,090 bears, which was the fifth highest harvest in Pennsylvania history. The record setting harvest was the 2005 season when hunters took a 4,164 bears.

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