Pennsylvania Public Supports Game Commissions Management Of Bears

Pennsylvania Public Supports Game Commission’s Management Of Bears

Pennsylvania Game Commission
Pennsylvania Game Commission

HARRISBURG, PA – -( In a recent survey of Pennsylvanians, 63 percent of respondents believe the Pennsylvania Game Commission is doing a good to excellent job managing black bears. The survey also stated that only five percent of residents have had a problem with a bear in the last two years.

The survey, which was called for by the Game Commission’s black bear management plan, was conducted by Responsive Management, a natural resources public opinion firm based in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and released to the Board of Game Commissioners at its recent meeting. The four objectives of the survey were to determine public opinions about current bear population levels; types and frequency of bear-human conflicts; public opinions on bear hunting and methods; and knowledge about bears in Pennsylvania.

“What this survey tells us is that most local bear populations appear to be at or slightly above social carrying capacity, which is the population threshold where people no longer desire more bears,” said Mark Ternent, Game Commission bear biologist. “Of those who responded, 59 percent believe the bear population in their county should remain the same – a view shared by both hunters and non-hunters.

“Among the minority who would like to see an increase in their area’s bear population, 78 percent only want a small to moderate increase. Also, 40 percent of respondents want bear populations in their county, but not in their city or township.”

Ternent said the survey shows that there is strong support for managing bear populations, as 79 percent either strongly or moderately agree that bear populations should be managed to control population size.

“Even in the southeast portion of the state, where bears and human-bear conflicts are relatively uncommon, 77 percent of people agree that controlling bear populations is important,” Ternent said. “Also, 70 percent of Pennsylvania residents support the regulated hunting of bears.”

The survey noted that five percent of Pennsylvanians have had a problem with a bear in the past two years. Yet 50 percent of problems are with birdfeeders and 40 percent involve garbage cans/dumpsters. Thus, limiting bears access to birdfeeders or garbage could potentially eliminate up to half of the human-bear conflicts. Of those who had a problem with bears, only 19 percent said that they reported it to the Game Commission.

“What this means is that our perception of conflicts is only about one-fifth of those occurring,” Ternent said. “However, 42 percent of the bear problems reported to the Game Commission are handled at the time of reporting by providing advice/information over the phone, and 51 percent of people reporting a bear problem to the Commission were satisfied with the response or service they received.

“People have an interest in bears, yet know little about them. Self-professed knowledge about black bears among Pennsylvania residents is low; only one of four say that they know a great deal or moderate amount about bears, while three-quarters say that they know a little or nothing. Information about bears, their ecology and management in Pennsylvania is available on the Game Commission’s website at, click on Wildlife and select “Black bear.”

To view a copy of the 500-page survey, go to the Game Commission’s website (, click on “Hunting” in the left-hand column, click on the photo of the bear, and scroll down to “Pennsylvania Residents’ Opinions On and Attitudes toward Black Bears.”