Pennsylvania man harvests rare albino black bear
A seasoned young hunter in the Keystone State last month was able to bag an impressive bear by any measure with a single shot. Not only was it a mature sow that dressed out at 138 pounds, but it also was a rare albino as well.
“When I got up to it my legs just locked up. Other members of our group came down and no one could believe it. It was surreal,” 26-year-old Jeremy Gross of Bloomsberg told the Times-Leader.
Gross harvested the animal on Dec. 4 in Beaver Township, Columbia County, part of Wildlife Management Unit 4E on a vacation day from work. Taking advantage of the extended gun season, he took the sow with a single shot from his .270.
State biologists advised the albino bear strain, like cinnamon and blonde-colored black bears, are something rarely encountered with only a handful born each year even in the state's plentiful population.
“When the bear was harvested on Dec. 4, it was really spreading on social media," said Kevin Wenner, biologist for the PGC’s Northeast Region, who had never come across one in his career before last month. "Someone brought a bear in that day and told us about the albino being harvested, and an hour later it showed up.”
Wenner, who estimated the bear to be about four years old, removed a tooth from the animal to better age it.
“It was a good-sized sow and appeared to be in good health,” Wenner said. “Being an albino didn’t impact her health.
The Keystone State enjoys some of the best and most liberal black bear seasons in the country with several seasons (dependent on local wildlife management units) that range from archery seasons beginning in mid-September, to muzzleloading season in mid-October, back to a renewed archery and finally a statewide event in November to mid-December. For more information on limits and seasons check out the state's webpage.
A large part of this stems from the Pennsylvania Game Commission's enduring bear management plan. Starting in 1986 with just a three-day season, the PGC has seen increased hunter participation and near record population growth. In all it is estimated that there are no less than 18,000 bear in the state, which has produced some massive bruins including an 864-pound male taken in Pike County in 2003. This is up from the low of under 4,000 in the 1970s, which translated into a closed season for three years.
In 2014, 3,366 bears were harvested in 56 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties and a record number of hunters, some 175,000, purchased licenses for the animals.
Bob D’Angelo, who coordinates the state’s Big Game Records program, said 22 bears (two taken by archers) were added to the state record book in 2015 with 16 qualifying for the Boone and Crockett Club record book, he told the Daily Local News. The largest, taken in Potter County in 2013, ties for 28th place all-time in the firearms category, with a skull measurement of 22-3/16 inches.