Checkup Finds Momma Bears, Cubs Healthy

Gregory Vellner
This guy isn't hibernating, but those who are appear healthy.Photo by🇸🇮 Janko FerličonUnsplash

L ANGHORNE, Pa. – Weeks after the Pennsylvania Game Commission announced 3,170 black bears were harvested last year, including some weighing more than 700 pounds, it has release a health status report that’s found black bears hibernating this winter appear to be healthy.

“So far, a lot of the bears are in good shape,” said Emily Carrollo, black bear program manager, state Game Commission, during a mother bear den check in northern Cambria County.

Black bears currently occupy three-quarters of the state, although sightings have been confirmed in every county including Bucks County.

The momma bears and cubs all look good, said Carrollo.

“Every single bear we went to had a beautiful coat and was fat and happy,” she said. “And the cubs were in really good shape.”

The state Game Commission typically visits as many as 36 dens.

“We go to anywhere from a dozen to three dozen dens every year, depending on the research we have going on in the state,” said Carrollo. “This year is an in-between research year, and the team is only checking on eight dens and a few yearling bears.”

The report follows the recent release of information on the number of black bears harvested last year in Pennsylvania (3,170). The state Game Commission said the number was less than 2021’s 3,621, but some of those taken were “tremendous” in size with three weighing more than 700 pounds and 11 more than 600 pounds.

The health checkup includes select female bears who have been fitted with tracking collars that allow the agency’s staff to follow their movements. A dart gun is used by wardens to tranquilize the mother bear in the den, and the agency’s staff is able to monitor her health.

The state Game Commission traditionally uses radio-collars on black bears in the northeastern, northcentral and southwestern regions of Pennsylvania, and in 2021 began using anew GPS in the southcentral area.

Bears den in rocky areas where they can get out of the weather in ravines and large holes, but they also can be found in brushy areas. Some also have be found under porches and decks of homes in wilderness areas. Cubs stay with their moms for a year before moving out on their own.

During the recent health check, cubs in the den – now six to seven weeks old weighing three to five pounds – are fitted with ear tags the agency will use if they encounter the bear in the future, such as if it’s caught in a trap for being a nuisance bear or it is harvested by a hunter.

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As a professional journalist for several years -- reporter, editor, feature writer, columnist -- I handled a range of subjects. Breaking news, investigative series, government action, feature events, and staff feature writer with national entertainment magazine interviewing stars including Tom Selleck, Mel Brooks and Danny DeVito. No matter the topic, certain ingredients are key: truth, facts, objectivity, balance.

Bucks County, PA

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