Latest Issue

How Many Bears?

Needless to say, black bears have been the topic of a lot of conversations around these parts in recent weeks — especially in light of the attack that took place a few weeks back. I’m sure everybody in the area is aware that a bear viciously attacked and badly injured a woman just south of Muncy. Apparently, it was a female and cubs may have been involved and deer parts were also in the area. The surprised bear attacked the woman when she stepped outside in the dark and dragged her nearly a hundred yards; it also attacked the woman’s small dog. This attack was a bit unusual in that the bear dragged the victim such a great distance and inflicted so much damage. Bear attacks in Pennsylvania, however, are fairly rare and generally don’t result in so much injury. Even when we are not hunting them many of us, me included, have had encounters with bears and the bear usually heads off in the opposite direction-thankfully.

Situations like the recent attack do raise some questions like why were the female and cubs not denned up by this time? Well, consider the mild weather we were having and the fact that plenty of deer remains were available throughout the countryside and that may help explain why some bears were late to den. Another factor that we may have to look at is how many bears are out there; keep in mind the more bears roaming the countryside the more likely there will be bear/human conflicts.

It wasn’t that many years ago that we were speculating that there were at least 10,000 bears throughout much of Pennsylvania and even though we don’t see them on a regular basis that’s still a lot of bears. These days the number of bears in Pennsylvania has doubled to around 20,000-that’s a lot of bears. Not only have bear numbers continued to increase it’s also true that bears are moving into areas that they did not formally inhabit. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not suggesting that we have too many, but we do have to be more aware that encounters are more likely to happen especially as our homes and their home territory increasingly overlap.

Apparently, the Pennsylvania Game Commission or at least some members of the commission may be thinking we may want to take a closer look at the bear numbers. As numbers continue to grow along with expanding territory the question arises, where do we try to halt the expansion?

I won’t get into all the details right now, but game commission biologists and commissioners are looking at some coming changes to bear seasons. One of those changes would be to extend some seasons; for example, a change under consideration is to allow bear hunting the entire first week of firearms deer season in all units. Another change might involve archery season; last year you could hunt bears for six days in the next to the last week of archery deer season, but next year they may allow a two week season in mid-October and concurrent with the statewide muzzleloader season. I’m sure there will be pros and cons to whatever changes are made-we’ll keep an eye on it.

While we are on the subject of bears I have just completed one of my largest paintings-a black bear standing up looking at a rather surprised raccoon. I’ve been putting updates of the painting on Facebook; go to Ken Hunter Art. I hope to have the painting at the Early Bird Sports Expo at the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds later this week. The show days and hours are Thursday 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-8 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

If by chance you don’t ice-fish and you are looking for something to do stop by and say hello and enjoy an excellent outdoor show.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *