Pennsylvania Game News - June 2019 - 26

tion - is influenced by food availability,
Game Commission black bear biologist
Mark Ternent explained.
Agricultural crops, birdfeeders, garbage cans, livestock and pets all draw
bears closer to Pennsylvanians. But not
because bears expect more from civilized
settings.
"It's just that once a bear finds a
reliable food source, it will continue to
use it," Ternent explained. "I don't think
there's any evidence bears have reduced
the distance they maintain to keep away
from people. But I do think more bears
today live closer to residential areas.
Bear range expansion has brought bears
closer to people, suburban development
has swallowed forest and brought people
closer to bears."
But bears, which otherwise aren't motivated to live close to people, and are not
born knowing people provide food, will
travel to look for other sources when food
becomes scarce, Ternent said.
During the Game Commission's
Urban Bear Study from 2010 to 2013,
many of the black bears captured were
not transients.
"They had home ranges that included
part of the urban/suburban areas we were
working in, or right next to them," Ternent
said. "Even young bears."
Bear life within the city limits can be
rewarding. But the study found an urban
or suburban bear's chances of being killed
by a vehicle were four times greater than
those of rural bears, Ternent said.
Over the study's three years, half of the
study bears died. However, human-bear
conflicts in the study area didn't go away
when these bears died.
26

"We learned that adjacent areas provide a continual source of new bears,"
Ternent said. "We also learned study
bears traveled in and out of the study area
regularly. Some would actually travel
hundreds of miles from where they were
first captured."

Pennsylvania today

It wasn't so long ago that Pennsylvania's bear population of less than 4,000,
occurring only in the Poconos or within
a handful of northcentral counties, was
a source of worry. The agency closed
bear season three times in the 1970s and
required hunters to purchase a bear license
starting in 1981 to reverse the black bear's
decline.
Over the next two decades, the bear
population rose by about 8 percent annually, Ternent explained. By 2000, an
estimated 15,000 bears occupied almost
three-quarters of the state. And today, the
statewide population is about 20,000, with
bears calling more counties home.
Further bear expansion into Pennsylvania's southwestern and westernmost
counties, and increased sightings in
southeastern counties seem likely, Ternent
said, but with limited impacts on bears or
people.
"I doubt we'll see large populations
of bears develop in new parts of the
state where they don't already occur," he
emphasized. "The habitat just isn't there,
or bears already would be present."
But where bears press the boundaries
of their range closer to people they're sure
to be noticed. The same could be said for
coyotes and raccoons - all able to adapt
to new and different environments.



Pennsylvania Game News - June 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pennsylvania Game News - June 2019

Contents
Pennsylvania Game News - June 2019 - Cover1
Pennsylvania Game News - June 2019 - Cover2
Pennsylvania Game News - June 2019 - Contents
Pennsylvania Game News - June 2019 - 2
Pennsylvania Game News - June 2019 - 3
Pennsylvania Game News - June 2019 - 4
Pennsylvania Game News - June 2019 - 5
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Pennsylvania Game News - June 2019 - 26
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Pennsylvania Game News - June 2019 - Cover3
Pennsylvania Game News - June 2019 - Cover4
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