The Pennsylvania Game Commission announced that hunters killed 3,632 bears during the recently completed season, ranking as the the third highest total in Pennsylvania history.
The record bear harvest was set last year, when hunters took 4,350 bears. In 2005, hunters harvested 4,162 bears, which was the second highest in history.
As usual, the northcentral region of the state led the way, but there was a new top county as Lycoming County led the state with 341 bears harvested. That supplanted last year’s leader, Potter County, which saw its harvest drop from 399 to 179 this year.
Closer to home, Somerset, Fayette, Westmoreland and even Allegheny counties saw increases in their bear harvests, while Armstrong, Cambria and Indiana counties saw decreases.
Somerset County increased its kill from 75 to 94, while Fayette saw an increase from 67 to 79. Allegheny County, which registered one bear kill in 2011, saw four bears taken within its borders in 2012.
According to final reports, a total of 45 bears weighing 500 pounds or more were legally harvested in 2012, with five surpassing the 600-pound mark.
Joseph A. Spano, of East Stoudsburg, had the largest bear, a 709-pounder taken Nov. 21, in Middle Smithfield Township, Monroe County.
• Expect the Pennsylvania Legislature to act soon on pushing the Game Commission to allow senior hunters to abide by the same rules as junior hunters in deer season when it comes to antler restrictions.
I’m hearing that if the commission isn’t going to act on the concerns of senior hunters, the Legislature is going to do it.
• With all teams down to just two or three remaining matches, the competitors in the WPIAL rifle postseason tournament are looking as if they are just about set.
In Section 1, McGuffey has locked up a spot. The Highlanders are 9-0 in section and 9-2 overall with section matches remaining against Avella (6-2, 6-4), West Greene (0-8, 0-10) and Washington (4-5, 4-7) remaining.
A victory over the Eagles on Tuesday or a win in any of their other three remaining matches would give the Highlanders the section title outright.
In addition to its match against McGuffey, Avella faces West Greene and Washington. But the Eagles have already beaten the Prexies twice, so they can be no worse than the No. 2 seed.
In Section 2, Woodland Hills (9-1, 11-1) can lock up sole possession of the section title with wins over Upper St. Clair (0-10, 0-11) Tuesday or Mt. Lebanon (5-4, 7-4) Thursday.
Trinity (7-3, 8-3) needs a win in one of its final two matches to earn a spot in the WPIAL tournament. The Hillers are off Tuesday, but have matches remaining Thursday against Bethel Park (3-6, 5-6) and Mt. Lebanon on Feb. 5.
Hempfield (8-1, 9-1) leads Section 3, with Butler (6-3, 9-3) currently standing in second place.
• The boycott of the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show in Harrisburg next month has created some opportunities for the Washington County Sportsmen’s Show at Washington Crown Center.
According to Washington County Sportsmen and Conservation League president Chet Krcil, his organization, which sponsors the local show, has already picked up five vendors who are skipping the Harrisburg show but still want to come to Pennsylvania.
The venders are boycotting the Harrisburg show after organizers banned the display of certain rifles and handguns and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Outdoors Editor F. Dale Lolley can be reached at email@example.com.