Pennsylvania Game News - October 2020 - 36

data and compile reports, while agency
field officers trapped and tagged bears
whenever possible. With time, these
efforts would begin to shed light on Pennsylvania bears and their needs.

ALT ENTERS
In 1974, Penn State grad student
Gary Alt joined Lindzey's team as head
researcher, and his data analysis began to
offer insight into what factors determine
the size and location of bear harvests, as
well as the reproductive performance of
black bears in Pennsylvania. Data showed
how bad weather, the availability of fall
foods and bear harvests fit together. Alt's
work also revealed that significant numbers of female bears in Pennsylvania were
breeding at 2.5 years old - one to two
years earlier than in most other populations, which indicated Pennsylvania's
bear numbers had the potential to increase
if given a chance. The bottleneck seemed
to be survival, not reproduction.

The one- and two-day seasons the
Game Commission adopted in the years
following the 1970 season closure helped.
So, too, did the data collected at the Game
Commission's new bear check stations,
established statewide in 1973.
But the good news emanating from
Pennsylvania's growing bear program
would be smothered by an unexpected
shock in America's bicentennial year.
Thankfully, fieldwork immediately
recognized it.
Pennsylvania had an unusually high
harvest of 605 bears in '76, which Alt
said, "looks laughably small now, but the
actual bear population then was about
2,500, instead of 20,000, and the bulk
of that population was restricted to only
about a dozen counties in northcentral and
northeastern Pennsylvania."
Conditions apparently were right for
bears to stay out of their dens in the '76
season, which created the potential for
high mortality. And with the state's more

State Route 390, north of Promised Land State Park in Pike County, was a busy stretch during
the one-day 1976 bear season, and hunters brought home a startlingly high 605 bears. But bear
research already had come a long way. The trapping, tagging and monitoring of bears with radio
collars, performed by Gary Alt, shown at right in this 1975 photo, and others helped recognize heavy
hunting impacts and inform decisions to close seasons at times when bears needed more help.

36



Pennsylvania Game News - October 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pennsylvania Game News - October 2020

Contents
Pennsylvania Game News - October 2020 - Cover1
Pennsylvania Game News - October 2020 - Cover2
Pennsylvania Game News - October 2020 - Contents
Pennsylvania Game News - October 2020 - 2
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Pennsylvania Game News - October 2020 - 4
Pennsylvania Game News - October 2020 - 5
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Pennsylvania Game News - October 2020 - Cover3
Pennsylvania Game News - October 2020 - Cover4
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