Buck, bear hunting seasons in W.Va. to run concurrently

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A black bear inspects a beech forest in West Virginia.
A black bear inspects a beech forest in West Virginia. (Photo courtesy W.Va. Dept. of Commerce)

Deer hunters in West Virginia are being reminded that a concurrent bear season (without dogs) will run from Nov. 25 through Dec. 7, 2019, in 51 counties, according to Colin Carpenter, the Black Bear Project Leader for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.

All 51 counties that are open to buck firearms hunting will be open to concurrent bear hunting on private and public land during the buck season. Buck firearms season is closed in Logan, McDowell, Mingo, and Wyoming counties.

“Counties that will be open for bear hunting during the buck gun season are above their management objective and need additional bears harvested to achieve their goal," Carpenter said.

"Timing is critical when setting bear hunting seasons, and the concurrent buck gun, bear season will occur when the maximum number of hunters are in the woods.

"Mast conditions in 2019 vary widely based on location. In many areas of the state, abundant red oak group mast will have bears dispersed across the landscape.

"These special seasons offer a unique opportunity for hunters who may have never bear hunted before to harvest a bear and we hope that they take advantage of this additional chance.”

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Bear hunting opportunities continue after the buck firearms season as well. All or parts of 24 counties will be open for bear hunting with or without dogs from Dec. 9-31. In addition, all or parts of 37 counties will be open for bear hunting without dogs from Dec. 9-31.

Successful hunters are required to submit a first premolar tooth from each harvested bear. Information on how to collect and submit a bear's first premolar tooth can be found on page 37 of the 2019–2020 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary.

In addition, hunters who harvest a female black bear are encouraged to save the reproductive tract or all the entrails. The DNR will offer hunters who submit a complete reproductive tract a $20 gift card for their effort.

Hunters with reproductive tracts or entrails should keep them cool or freeze them and contact their nearest district wildlife office or Elkins Operations Center to arrange drop-off.

Hunters can get a bear tooth envelope and information on what a complete reproductive tract consists of at all district offices or the Elkins Operations Center. Data obtained from tooth samples and reproductive tracts are used for black bear population monitoring.

Hunters are reminded to purchase their bear damage stamp, as well as an appropriate hunting license. Details concerning bear hunting seasons can be found on pages 35-40 of the 2019–2020 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary, which is available at DNR offices, license vendors across West Virginia and .

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