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The final preliminary numbers are in for the statewide bear season.

Despite predictions from the Pennsylvania Game Commission that a record harvest may be possible, there was actually a decrease in the number of the bears taken this year when compared to the previous year.

Hunters during the final day of Pennsylvania’s bear season on Nov. 23 brought in 271 bears, raising the 2016 statewide season harvest to 2,579 — a decrease compared to the 2,693 bears taken during the four days of the statewide season in 2015.

A final tally of the total bear harvest, which will include all bears harvested during the 2016 archery bear season and the extended bear seasons, will be released at a later date, after all bear seasons for the 2016-17 license year are completed.

Last year, more than 1,000 bears were harvested outside of the four-day statewide bear season.

Bears were harvested in 53 counties during the statewide season in 2016.

The top 10 bears processed at check stations through the close of the statewide season all were either estimated or confirmed to have live weights of 621 pounds or more.

One bear taken on Nov. 23 joined the state’s top 10.

On the afternoon of Nov. 23, Donald Boandl, of Lake Ariel, harvested a 676-pound male in Dreher Township, Wayne County. It’s the second-heaviest bear taken during the statewide season.

The largest of the state’s heaviest bears — a male estimated at 700 pounds — was taken in ­­­Barrett Township, Monroe County, by Chad D. Nauman, of Cresco. He took it with a rifle at about 7 a.m. on Nov. 19, the season’s opening day.

Other large bears taken in the statewide season — all with a rifle — include: a 666-pound male taken Nov. 21 in Leidy Township, Clinton County, by Ryan Grieb, of Leesport; a 662-pound male, taken Nov. 21 in Homer Township, Potter County, by Grant Ruhl, of Lebanon; a 649-pound male taken Nov. 22 in Armstrong Township, Lycoming County, by Gregory S. Fuller, of Williamsport; a 642-pound male taken Nov. 19 in Sterling Township, Wayne County, by Randy D. Elders, of Greentown; a 635-pound male, taken Nov. 21 in Hebron Township, Potter County, by Andrew Tiffany, of Athens; a 622-pound male taken Nov. 19 in Porter Township, Pike County, by Joseph M. Skutches Jr., of Nazareth; a 621-pound male taken Nov. 19 in Tionesta Township, Forest County, by Ronald J. Reitlinger, of Cranberry Township; and a 621-pound male taken Nov. 21 in Briar Creek Township, Columbia County, by Kerry Lauer, of Berwick.

The overall 2015 bear harvest was 3,748, the third-largest in state history. In 2014, hunters took a total of 3,366 bears — the seventh-largest harvest all time. The largest harvest — 4,350 bears — happened in 2011, when preliminary two-day totals numbered 2,709.

The top bear hunting county in the statewide season was Clinton County, with 191. It held off Lycoming County, where hunters took 172 bears during the statewide season.

There were no bears harvested in York County.

Harvests by county and region during the statewide season are:

Southeast (51): Dauphin, 23 (23); Schuylkill, 19 (23); Lebanon, 7 (3); Berks 1 (2); Northampton, 1 (0); and Lehigh, 0 (2).

Southcentral (279): Bedford, 62 (61); Huntingdon, 60 (88); Perry, 33 (20); Fulton, 30 (36); Juniata, 27 (24); Blair, 22 (30); Mifflin, 22 (19); Franklin, 12 (19); Snyder, 8 (14); Cumberland, 3 (7); and Adams 0 (0).

Northwest (473): Warren, 121 (122); Venango, 82 (73); Forest, 73 (72); Jefferson, 66 (58); Clarion, 49 (64); Crawford, 46 (12); Erie, 18 (5); Butler, 9 (18); and Mercer, 9 (7).

Southwest (244): Somerset, 83 (64); Fayette, 59 (56); Westmoreland, 33 (23); Indiana, 30 (19); Armstrong, 22 (40); Cambria, 17 (25); and Allegheny, 0 (1).

Northcentral (1,086): Clinton, 191 (224); Lycoming, 172 (237); Tioga, 156 (136); Potter, 139 (72); McKean, 102 (89); Clearfield, 93 (110); Centre, 78 (110); Cameron, 71 (75); Elk, 71 (75); and Union, 13 (25).

Northeast (446): Luzerne, 74 (64); Pike, 54 (113); Monroe, 48 (58); Wayne, 48 (50); Sullivan, 43 (40); Bradford, 42 (52); Lackawanna, 34 (23); Wyoming, 27 (26); Columbia, 25 (19); Susquehanna, 25 (26); Carbon, 24 (35); Montour, 1 (1); and Northumberland, 1 (3).

Information for this story was provided by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

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