The Largest Black Bear Ever Caught in Pennsylvania Was a Goliath

Largest PA Black Bear
© Animals

Written by Joyce Nash

Published: November 29, 2023

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With rugged mountains and dense hardwood forests, the terrain in Pennsylvania provides a home for over 16,000 black bears. Thanks to successful conservation efforts, black bears are not considered endangered by the IUCN, and they have been spotted in at least 50 counties in Pennsylvania. Keep reading to learn about the largest black bear ever caught in Pennsylvania.

Black Bear by the river fishing

Black bears are the most abundant species of bear.

©Mark Caunt/

Overview of Black Bears

Black bears live in over half of the United States, concentrated in the East Coast, West Coast, and Great Lakes regions. As their name implies, most black bears have black fur with a brown snout, although they can covered entirely by brown, red, or even white fur.


Black bears are carnivores that eat deer, fish, and carrion. However, they also consume a diet high in plant matter, including nuts, fruits, grasses, and bulbs. To prepare for the winter months, black bears can spend up to 12 hours a day searching for food to build up their fat reserves.

Mother Bear and Two Cubs in a Tree

Female black bears typically give birth to one to five cubs at a time.

©dssimages/iStock via Getty Images


Mostly solitary creatures, black bears spend much of their time hunting and foraging. As their population increased, there was a subsequent increase of black bears wandering into neighborhoods in search of an easy meal. In the winter, black bears enter a state of semi-hibernation, only exiting their den occasionally for food until warmer weather returns.

Black bears mate during the summer months, and pregnant females have a gestation period of seven months. Cubs are born towards the end of winter and rely on their mothers for food and protection until they are around two years old.

Size and Appearance

Black bears are the smallest bears in North America, typically weighing between 200 and 600 pounds. They have short, stocky legs and strong claws that enable them to quickly climb trees. Black bears can achieve speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. When threatened, they will put on a terrifying display by standing on their hind legs to make themselves appear bigger. 

Black Bear Population by State

On average, black bears weigh from 200 to 600 pounds.


The Largest Black Bear Caught in Pennsylvania

The Boone and Crockett Club, an organization that promotes conservation and wildlife management, maintains logs of big game records. According to the organization’s data, the largest black bear ever caught in Pennsylvania was killed on Nov. 30, 2011, by hunter Robert T. Christian. 

The Boone and Crockett Club classifies animals based on the sum of the animal skull’s length and width. The black bear that Christian submitted had a total skull measurement of 23 9/16 inches. Experts estimated that the bear was around 10 years old and weighed over 700 pounds. This enormous bear fell just shy of breaking the world record, which was set decades ago in Utah by a bear measuring 23 10/16 inches.

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About the Author

Joyce Nash is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering travel and geography. She has almost a decade of writing experience. Her background ranges from journalism to farm animal rescues and spans the East Coast to the West. She is based in North Carolina, and in her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, and spending time with her husband and two cats.

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