Sportsline with Tony Caridi  Watch |  Listen

Bear Season Prospects Look Dim


There is no shortage of black bears in West Virginia, but the shortage of food could make it difficult to find one as the bear hunting season opens in West Virginia.   Like most wildlife, bears in the state can be largely patterned in their behavior by food sources.  This year, that food source is spotty at best in many parts of the state.

"Typically when we have bad mast years, the bears will go to den earlier," said DNR Biologist Chris Ryan. "It’s a lot more energetically efficient to just go lie down, rather than walking around looking for food and burning up their fat reserves."

It’s the main reason Ryan anticipates the gun season harvest of bears this year will be reduced.    He suggests hunters in the West Virginia mountain counties may find success a little better, due to the better conditions for mast in the high country.

"There are some red and scarlet oaks in the mountains," said Ryan. "They should scout and go find where the oak did hit and those are the places that will likely hold the bears in December."

The real problem with bear hunting in the mountains is the always unpredictable weather.  A snowstorm will typically send the bears into the den in high numbers.   Ryan says that too is a function of food availability.

"Weather can make them hibernate earlier," he said. "They don’t want to be out there looking for acorns in a foot and a half of snow."

Ryan, who’s followed bear activity in West Virginia over the past five to ten years, doesn’t expect the poor mast conditions will have any negative impact on reproduction just because of the sheer volume of bears in West Virginia.  He does however, anticipate a lot of the bears born this winter will never see the outside of their den.

"Some data shows the bears will have the cubs in January, but if she doesn’t have enough milk to make those cubs grow up, they they’ll starve to death," said Ryan.  "Mast definitely affects the population, but when the population starts getting so high, you won’t notice it as much."


More Outdoors

Ready for free fishing weekend in West Virginia
The DNR hopes waiving license requirements for two days will encourage people to try fishing for the first time or at least try it again if they haven't been in a while. You could also give your kids a first fishing experience as part of the event.
June 7, 2023 - 10:06 am
W.Va. anglers qualify to advance in BASS event
For a fourth year in a row a West Virginian wins either the boater or non-boater top spot at the organization's regional championship event
June 6, 2023 - 1:58 pm
DNR Police ready for start of boating weekend
Memorial Day weekend typically kicks off the pleasure boating season, officers will be looking for break downs and violations on the waters of the Mountain State.
May 25, 2023 - 2:29 pm
Hunting is a family affair for the Shell family in Wyoming County
Buford and Lena Shell and their 11 year old son Levi all tag out during the spring gobbler season, for the second time in three years.
May 22, 2023 - 2:34 pm

Your Comments