Jefferson County Bear Hunters Doing Well

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FALLS CREEK, Pa. (EYT) – With the 2016 regular bear season winding down, hunters had brought 101 bruins to the check station in Falls Creek at the Friendship Hose Company.

One of the lucky ones was Walter Stansell, of Brockway (pictured above). He bagged his late in the day Tuesday.   The female weighed about 181 pounds.

One of the hunters in Stansell’s party had wounded the bear earlier in the day, and they tracked it in the snow for a number of miles before Stansell was able to finish the hunt when a drive moved the bear to where Stansell could see it.

“Thank God we had snow on the ground, or I don’t know if we would have found it. We were able to see what it was doing and drive it back,” Stansell said.

His group was hunting on State Game Lands 54 in Snyder Township. Stansell started hunting bears in 1997 and he bagged his first bear in 2013 when he got a big male.

Hunters had brought some very large bears into the check station.

The biggest was a male that weighed an estimated 539 pounds. Caleb Wilson bagged the monster bear Monday in Pinecreek Township, Jefferson County, between Allens Mills and North Sulger.

On Saturday, David Richey bagged a male that weighed 492 pounds in Jefferson County.

Kristopher Hill bagged a male on Monday that weighed an estimated 488 pounds in Polk Township, Jefferson County.

Monday was also a good day for Paul Lindermuth who shot a male weighing nearly 450 pounds in Oliver Township, Jefferson County, between Coolspring and Worthville.

Jesse Bish, the Land Management Group Supervisor for Clarion and Jefferson counties (pictured below), was in charge of the check station. He said it appeared hunters in the northern parts of both counties seemed to do well hunting public land.

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“With the bumper crop of acorns, the bears were really in the forested areas in big tracts of public land,” Bish said. “Obviously, we still saw bears coming in from areas where there were cornfields, but hunter access was a big deal.

“Some places posted and other areas, deer hunters don’t want bear hunters in there pushing the deer around before Monday,” Bish added.

Six bears with ear tags were brought in, meaning they were either bears that the Game Commission had tagged as part of their ongoing research or were bears that had been live trapped and relocated because they were causing crop damage or threatening livestock.

Through the first three days of the regular season hunt, Warren County led the Northwest Region with 106. Venango County was number two with 75, Forest County had 64, Jefferson had 60 and Clarion 42.

Crawford had 34, up from just 11 a year ago. Crawford, not traditionally a county with a lot of bears, was seemingly experiencing a banner year with many complaints and sightings.

Additionally, an extended bear season has been added in Wildlife Management Unit 1B, which includes Erie County and parts of Warren, Venango, and Crawford counties.

This season, which runs from November 30 to December 3, was established to prevent further expansion of bears into the western portion of WMU 1B, where the potential for bear-human conflicts is high.

Bear hunters in Venango and Forest counties have taken two of the largest bruins during the 2016 season which ended Wednesday.

While final-day harvest figures aren’t yet available, hunters have taken more than 2,300 bears in the first three days of the season.

John J. Ippolito, of Gibsonia, bagged a 610-pound male on Saturday, November 19, in Scrubgrass Township, Venango County.

Ronald J. Reitlinger, of Cranberry Township, shot a 621-pound male on Saturday in Tionesta Township, Forest County, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

The biggest bear processed at a check station during the first two days was an estimated 700-pound male killed in Monroe County on Saturday by Chad D. Nauman, of Cresco.

Through Tuesday, the third day of the regular rifle season, hunters had reported 2,308 bears to check stations. The figure represents a decrease of 8 percent from the 2015 season when 2,487 bears were bagged.

Archery and other early bear season harvest data still are being entered into the Game Commission’s database and are not available at this time.

Bears have been harvested in 53 counties during the statewide season so far.

The top 10 bears processed at check stations by Wednesday were either estimated or confirmed to have live weights of 616 pounds or more.

One bear taken on Tuesday joined the state’s top 10.

Gregory S. Fuller, of Williamsport, harvested a male estimated at 649 pounds Tuesday in Armstrong Township, Lycoming County.

Other large bears taken in the statewide season – all with a rifle – include:

  • 666-pound male taken Monday in Leidy Township, Clinton County, by Ryan Grieb, of Leesport, Pa.;
  • 662-pound male, taken Monday in Homer Township, Potter County, by Grant Ruhl, of Lebanon, Pa.;
  • 642-pound male taken Saturday in Sterling Township, Wayne County, by Randy D. Elders, of Greentown, Pa.;
  • 635-pound male, taken Monday in Hebron Township, Potter County, by Andrew Tiffany, of Athens, Pa;
  • 622-pound male taken Saturday in Porter Township, Pike County, by Joseph M. Skutches Jr., of Nazareth, Pa.;
  • 621-pound male taken Monday in Briar Creek Township, Columbia County, by Kerry Lauer, of Berwick, Pa; and
  • 616-pound male taken Saturday in Tuscarora Township, Juniata County, by Arron J. Zimmerman, of Port Royal, Pa.

The overall 2015 bear harvest was 3,748, the third-largest in state history.

In 2014, hunters took a total of 3,366 bears – the seventh-largest harvest all time. The largest harvest – 4,350 bears – happened in 2011, when preliminary two-day totals numbered 2,709.

The preliminary three-day bear harvest by Wildlife Management Unit was as follows: WMU 1A, 27 (15 in 2014); WMU 1B, 99 (58); WMU 2A, 1 (1); WMU 2B, 0 (2); WMU 2C, 192 (171); WMU 2D, 79 (147); WMU 2E, 54 (40); WMU 2F, 276 (307); WMU 2G, 515 (606); WMU 2H, 92 (58); WMU 3A, 144 (91); WMU 3B, 165 (198); WMU 3C, 56 (71); WMU 3D, 167 (226); WMU 4A, 108 (112); WMU 4B, 69 (82); WMU 4C, 64 (79); WMU 4D, 158 (198); WMU 4E, 40 (25); WMU 5A, 1 (0); and WMU 5C, 1 (0).

The top bear hunting county in the state after three days of season was Clinton County, with 179. It held off Lycoming County, where hunters took 156 bears the first three days of the season. In a typical Pennsylvania bear season, these counties often are the top two.

Three-day harvests by county (number in parenthesis is 2015 county figure) and region are:

Northwest (407): Warren, 106 (116); Venango, 75 (69); Forest, 64 (70); Jefferson, 60 (52); Clarion, 42 (58); Crawford, 34 (11); Erie, 11 (4); Butler, 8 (16); and Mercer, 7 (6).

Southwest (215): Somerset, 76 (61); Fayette, 49 (44); Westmoreland, 29 (19); Indiana, 26 (19); Armstrong, 19 (36); Cambria, 16 (24); and Allegheny, 0 (1).

Northcentral (995): Clinton, 179 (202); Lycoming, 156 (222); Tioga, 143 (118); Potter, 126 (69); McKean, 88 (84); Clearfield, 87 (103); Centre, 71 (104); Cameron, 66 (73); Elk, 66 (70); and Union, 13 (25).

Southcentral (256): Bedford, 59 (57); Huntingdon, 51 (82); Fulton, 28 (34); Perry, 28 (17); Juniata, 27 (20); Blair, 21 (27); Mifflin, 20 (18); Franklin, 11 (18); Snyder, 8 (14); and Cumberland, 3 (4).

Northeast (389): Luzerne, 62 (60); Pike, 50 (107); Monroe, 46 (57); Wayne, 40 (44); Bradford, 39 (47); Sullivan, 37 (37); Lackawanna, 25 (21); Susquehanna, 24 (23); Carbon, 22 (27); Wyoming, 22 (26); Columbia, 20 (19); Montour, 1 (1); and Northumberland, 1 (3).

Southeast (46): Dauphin, 21 (22); Schuylkill, 16 (20); Lebanon, 7 (3); Lehigh, 0 (2); Berks 1 (1); and Northampton, 1 (0).


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