Add Beaver County to the list of places where a hunter has bagged a black bear.
According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, an archer named Richard J. Wall II killed a male bear in Daugherty Township on Sept. 19. The animal weighed 233 pounds field dressed.
It’s a historic harvest.
“As far as I know, that’s probably the first bear harvested in Beaver County in, boy, at least as long as Game Commission records have been kept, and probably longer,” said Tom Fazi, information and education supervisor in the commission’s southwest region office in Bolivar.
Commission bear kill records date to 1949.
When a hunter killed a bear in Allegheny County in 2011, agency officials said it was likely the first taken there in a century or more. The Beaver County harvest might likewise be the first since the 19th century, Fazi said.
Wall could not be reached for comment.
But Mike Yeck, a commission wildlife conservation officer in Beaver County, said he and fellow officers had been aware of the bear and keeping tabs on it for a month. It had been spotted in several municipalities. Reports had come in ranging from simple sightings to complaints about the bear raiding bird feeders and garbage cans, he said.
Wall heard about the bear, too, and decided to get a bear license just in case he came across it while bowhunting for deer, Yeck said. When it wandered past his stand, he shot it with his compound bow.
Yeck checked the bear to verify the harvest and said it was legitimate.
“The carcass was thoroughly examined and both wounds (one non-fatal, one fatal) were caused by brodheads. An investigation of the area around the treestand found no evidence of any illegal activity,” he said.
“The stomach contents were examined and showed that the bear was still eating birdseed and apples, as reported in complaint incidents.”
Will more bears turn up in previously unheard of places?
The potential is there.
Commission bear biologist Mark Ternent said going into last hunting season that several of the counties that had yet to produce a bear since 1900 – including Washington and Greene – have resident populations. They’re just small enough that hunters haven’t focused attention on them, he said then.
Bears, meanwhile, are taking up residence in parts of other counties where they haven’t been common.
Hunters annually kill two dozen or more bears in Westmoreland County, for example. Most come from the Laurel Ridge and surrounding areas.
This year, though, wildlife conservation officer Matt Lucas said there are bears in places like Rostraver, Sewickley and Hempfield townships. All – like the part of Beaver where Wall was hunting — are in wildlife management unit 2B, where archers can take bears as well as deer.
“I have had multiple reports of bears in each township throughout the summer months,” Lucas said.
This is Richard J. Wall II and his Beaver County black bear.