First bears bagged at Mt. Jewett check station

Photo by Larry Smith — Aaron Hinton, 19, of Ridgway, bagged his first bear on Saturday's opening day of rifle bear season. Hinton shot the adult male on State Game Lands 44. The bear dressed out at 116 pounds.
Staff Writer

MT. JEWETT — Pennsylvania hunters took to the woods in the snow and ice on Saturday and battled a steady drizzle for the opening day of the four day PA bear rifle season. According to the PA Game Commission website, 1202 bears were taken on opening day. 
 At the Mt. Jewett check station, located at the Mt. Jewett Firehall, 27 bears were checked in. The heaviest bear was 439 pounds and was shot in Keating Township. As of 3:30 on Saturday, only five bears had been checked in. The heaviest at that point was a 385-pound male shot by Joshua Rosenswie of Port Allegany. The boar had an estimated live weight of 454 pounds. 
 The first bear checked was a 381 pound (450 live weight) male that was shot in Norwich Township. Eight of the 27 total were juvenile bears, 19 were adults. 
 There were 11 females and 16 males checked in at the Mt. Jewett station. The two smallest bears checked Saturday were a 56-pound male and 56 pounds female shot in  Hamilton Township and Jones Township. Ten bears taken had a dressed out weight of under 100 pounds. One bear weighed over 400 pounds and two were over 300 pounds dressed out. 
 The heaviest bear taken on Saturday was shot in Clearfield and weighed 704 pounds. The average weight of a harvested PA bear is 158 pounds. 
 PA sells around 170,000 bear license each year with an average of 3,000-4,000 animals taken. In 2015 the Game Commission estimated that 20,000 black bears live in the state of PA and can live up to 25 years in the wild. 
 The bear harvest in 2017-2018 was 3,438 which was ninth all-time with 48 bears weighing in at over 500 pounds. The record harvest was 4,350 in 2011. In 2017, two bears taken were 700 plus pounds. It takes nine years for a bear to reach over 500 pounds. 
 The season will run through Wednesday, with the Mt. Jewett Firehall check station being open all three days.