Pennsylvania Game News - November 2020 - 33

After joining the Game Commission in 1977 - the
first of two consecutive years when bear seasons were
shut down over concern for the resource - and becoming the
agency's bear biologist soon after, Gary Alt had seen Pennsylvania's black bear population make a huge recovery, and hunter
harvests correspondingly climb.
Then, in 1999, Alt would change jobs and become the agency's first "deer
management section supervisor." It wasn't a job he sought; there still was plenty
to sort out managing bears. But he was intrigued by the opportunity.
"Switching to deer, that was probably the most difficult thing I'd ever been
involved with, but it was important to do," Alt explained. "For me, it was kind of like signing up to go to war. I knew that was going to be a job that would end my career right from the
start. But I thought, I'm doing it."
Mark Ternent filled Alt's vacated bear biologist position in 2000, coming to the Game
Commission by way of Wyoming's Game and Fish Department. His first year on the
job, Pennsylvania's bear harvest topped 3,000 bears for the first time in agency history. Yet, Ternent believed black bears only occupied about three-quarters of the
state, with plenty of room to expand.
While the statewide bear population at the time was estimated at about
15,000, bears remained uncommon in places like the far western and
northwestern counties, and rare in southeastern counties, Ternent said.
"By 2000, Pennsylvania had more than recovered its bear population from overharvest," Ternent said. "It had seen that population
increase threefold in two short decades. It was clear a change of
direction was needed to stabilize - and even reduce - this growing
bear population in high-conflict areas."
As bears expanded their range in Pennsylvania, they proved to
be more than the deep-woods denizens they'd been in the past. They
showed an ability to adapt and willingness to live near people, not just
raid properties for food. And they began regularly being harvested in new areas.
"This had never been possible before, because we had displaced bears to the
remotest parts of their range," Ternent said.
Still, there was considerable uninhabited bear range. And while bear population

OCTOBER 2020	

33



Pennsylvania Game News - November 2020

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

Contents
Pennsylvania Game News - November 2020 - Cover1
Pennsylvania Game News - November 2020 - Cover2
Pennsylvania Game News - November 2020 - Contents
Pennsylvania Game News - November 2020 - 2
Pennsylvania Game News - November 2020 - 3
Pennsylvania Game News - November 2020 - 4
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Pennsylvania Game News - November 2020 - 20
Pennsylvania Game News - November 2020 - 21
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Pennsylvania Game News - November 2020 - Cover3
Pennsylvania Game News - November 2020 - Cover4
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