Hunters in 29 WV counties could kill a bear during buck season under proposed regs
MetroNews File
Hunters in 29 WV counties could kill a bear during buck season under proposed regs

West Virginia hunters may see even more opportunities to kill a bear this fall in many counties where the opportunity has never existed before.

The DNR made its proposals to for season dates and bag limits on this year’s game seasons to the Natural Resources Commission.   The most aggressive changes were in the area of bear hunting, where 29 counties will have a season for black bear during the buck hunting season.

“About five years ago the process started when we made mass changes to our bear operational plan,” said DNR Biologist Chris Ryan. “We opened up some earlier seasons and those worked real well. The next step in the plan is to propose it during the buck gun season.”

The DNR proposes opening bear season in 19 counties, by drawn permit, to coincide with the two week buck hunting season for deer.   Ryan said the number of permits will depend on the data from the annual Mast Survey for each county.

“Bear is one of our species that is greatly influenced by the mast conditions,”  said Ryan. “If we have very good mast conditions, bears will be out longer.  If we have mast failure, they go to bed sooner–in that case you would want more permits to harvest the number of females you want.”

The 19 counties included in this year’s proposed season area are largely all counties that touch I-79 to the east, with a few exceptions.  Added to that will be 10 counties where the bear season would also coincide with the two week buck season for deer, but hunters would not need a drawn permit.

The proposal also called for the early hunting season for bear with dogs to be moved later in the year.  It’s proposed for October 14, 15, and 16.   Previously the date was in September, which drew heat from houndsmen.   There had always been a reluctance to move the early season because of conflicts with bow hunting, but the proposal represents a change in thinking.

“That’s a request we’ve had from the dog hunters to move that season back when it’s a little cooler for the dogs and for them,” said Ryan. “There’s not that many people in the woods on that Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.”

However, the early season for southern West Virginia would remain a September season.

“We don’t have quite as much dog hunting pressure down there,” said Ryan. “The bag limit is the same as last year, a bag limit of two bears but one much come from Boone, Fayette, Mingo, McDowell, Kanahwa, Logan, Raleigh, or Wyoming Counties.  We’re hoping to get some extra pressure on those counties.”

The proposals now go out for public comment.  The DNR will meet with sportsmen to gauge their feeling on the propsals at the March Sectional meetings.  The Natural Resources Commissoin has the final says on the proposals.

Ryan said biologists are comfortable with increasing the harvest of black bears which are growing exponentially in West Virginia.  Much like the deer management, the killing of females is the best way to control the bear numbers.

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  • kenny lloyd

    has the bear season in buck season passed and is mineral county inc thank you

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  • Brandon

    Here in Berkeley and Morgan county, we are starting to see a number of them in the local WMA. Some have even been spotted along 81 by the MD border with cubs... If cars start plowing bears at 70 mph+ its going to get nasty quick. We are the West Virginia Bear Mercenaries I guess you could say... Hahaha

  • J

    I am a hound hunter and have been all my life. I Hunt in pendleton county. I liked to early season in Sept. Last year there was Ice and Frost Most morning in the mountains, and it is Nice weather for people to take there kids. Oct could be just as hot. Like the does seasson last year was in the 80's. I hope the DNR gives Thought to the Mountains.

  • Gene

    As long as the new additon does NOT allow the use of dogs during the buck season, I would support that. As it is now, you cannot deer hunt with a bow in soem counties because the bear hunters are "training" their dogs. If the use of dogs during the buck season is permitted, I'd say there will definatly be a few lesss dogs chasing bear.

  • wes

    I live in Hardy county. With the rapid growing of dog runners in the county, I think it would be a great advantage of having bear season during buck season, because hunters like myself, likes sitting out in the woods without the worry of dogs running underneathe my treestand. It would give the hunters a better chance of harvesting a bear before the dogs start running.

  • rob

    i hunted wester co. last year the first time in 10 years i saw bear all 3 days i hunted during Thanksgiving week i went back during bear season with dogs -did not see the first bear-maybe now with the new proposed changes mabe my luck with change

  • Keep it wild in WV

    Our family has enjoyed the opportunity to harvest a bear during Thanksgiving week. Its great because we are all in the woods this week not work. Our deer hunting is not what it use to be. So having an opportunity to harvest a bear keeps our enthusiasm up. Plus the state get 10 buck out of now when otherwise they wouldn't have. Hope they spend it with the sportsman in mind.