When six of the eight Pennsylvania Game Commission board of game commissioners voted to make dramatic changes to this year's bear seasons, it was hoped that the hunter success of recent years would continue.

Instead, hunters took an unofficial total of 3,039 bears, which, while ranking No. 7 overall, represents the fewest since 2,362 were taking in 2007, and last year's total of 3,512 bears taken was No. 2 to the all-time total of 4,164 taken in 2005. In 2008 3,460 bears were taken and in '06 3,124 bears were taken.

Because of rising complaints of bear damage and unwanted encounters, the board created the first-ever statewide five-day archery season from Monday-Friday, Nov. 15-19. This was followed by a statewide three-day firearms season, beginning Saturday, Nov. 20, and continuing Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 22 and 23.

Previously, there was a limited, two-day archery bear season in select wildlife management units and the statewide three-day firearms season was held the Monday-Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day. In addition, all concurrent bear/deer hunting, which varied by WMUs, held during the first week of the statewide firearms deer season was eliminated.

In addition to the change in seasons, for the first time, PGC employees working to gather data at the bear check stations were using new technology to record information designed to improve the processing of bears so that hunters could get in and out of check stations quickly and improve accuracy in data collection. Despite this improvement in timely and accurate processing, the new system did lead to a delay in the release of results, and the final official total will be released early next year.

According to preliminary figures, 224 bears were taken during the archery season, with 90 being taken on opening day. Other day-by-day totals are: Tuesday, 32; Wednesday, 26; Thursday, 23; and Friday, 53.

Opening day was the most successful during the firearms season, with 1,751 bears being taken. Monday resulted in just 793 bears being taken and Tuesday produced 271.

Last year, 1,897 bears were taken on the opening Monday of the three-day firearms season. That is No. 2 to the all-time total of 2,026 taken on the opening day of the record-setting '05 season.

Of the 10 legal bears that had an estimated live weight of more than 600 pounds, the heaviest was a boar with an estimated live weight of 875 pounds taken on the opening day of the archery season by Dave Price of Cresco. He took the bear in WMU 3D, Monroe County, and while the bear is one of the heaviest ever taken in Pennsylvania, Pope and Young records for archery and Boone and Crockett records for firearms are based on skull size, not weight, and the bear is not expected to be a state record.

Randy Chabol of Somerset took the heaviest bear during the firearms season, a boar with an estimated live weight of 772 pounds. He took the bear in WMU 2C, Somerset County, on the opening day.

Preliminary bear totals by WMUs, with 2009 figures in parentheses, are: WMU 1A , 11 (8); WMU 1B , 42 (36); WMU 2A , 1 (0); WMU 2C , 307 (247); WMU 2D , 145 (128); WMU 2E , 93 (77); WMU 2F , 199 (282); WMU 2G , 892 (1,027); WMU 3A , 198 (255); WMU 3B , 232 (292); WMU 3C , 108 (73); WMU 3D , 256 (276); WMU 4A , 135 (125); WMU 4B , 53 (43); WMU 4C , 90 (141); WMU 4D , 244 (442); WMU 4E , 31 (58); and WMU 5C , 2 (1).

Preliminary bear totals by county by PGC regions, with 2009 figures in parentheses, are:

Northwest: Venango, 56 (33); Warren, 54 (101); Clarion, 47 (48); Forest, 47 (60); Jefferson, 33 (59); Butler, 12 (13); Crawford, 10 (8); Erie, 3 (0); and Mercer, 2 (3).

Southwest: Fayette, 101 (72); Somerset, 83 (72); Westmoreland, 62 (65); Armstrong, 56 (44); Indiana, 42 (33); and Cambria, 18 (19).

Northcentral: Clinton, 248 (295); Lycoming, 228 (280); Tioga, 183 (217); Clearfield, 182 (135); Potter 148 (181); Cameron, 138 (214); Centre, 118 (148); McKean, 92 (142); Elk, 89 (121); and Union, 46 (51).

Southcentral: Huntingdon, 95 (110); Bedford, 84 (65); Mifflin, 41 (64); Blair, 31 (44); Juniata, 19 (33); Snyder, 19 (23); Perry, 17 (8); Fulton, 11 (16); Franklin, 8 (5); Cumberland, 1 (0).

Northeast: Pike, 122 (117); Bradford, 38 (74); Monroe, 57 (77); Sullivan, 57 (68); Carbon, 35 (66); Luzerne, 58 (56); Wayne, 82 (49); Wyoming, 22 (44); Lackawanna, 16 (32); Susquehanna, 41 (30); Columbia, 20 (27); Northumberland, 3 (6); and Montour, 1 (1).

Southeast: Schuylkill, 27 (37); Dauphin, 20 (24); Lebanon, 7 (8); Berks, 2 (7); and Northampton, 7 (5).