Early bear gun seasons launch in 16 W.Va. counties

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Early bear gun seasons launch in 16 W.Va. counties
Black bear are now found in all 55 West Virginia counties. (Photo courtesy W.Va. Dept. of Commerce)

Early black bear gun hunting, with or without dogs, is available in all or parts of 16 counties until Sept. 25 and will open up in four additional counties on Oct. 3, according to the W.Va. Division of Natural Resources.

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Colin Carpenter, black bear project leader for the division, said an excess population of the species has been documented in all of the areas in which hunting is being permitted.

“Counties that are open for early bear hunting need additional bears to be harvested to achieve the management goal in that area,” Carpenter said.

“The benefit of these early seasons is that bears are more available because den entrance is still two or more months away."

All or parts of the counties open to bear hunting until Sept. 25 include Barbour (east of route 92), Braxton (east of I-79), Clay (south of Elk River), Grant, Greenbrier, Hardy, Mineral (west of New Creek), Monroe (east of Route 219), Nicholas, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Preston, Randolph, Tucker, Upshur (east of route 20), and Webster.

From Oct. 3-9, all of Boone, Fayette, Kanawha, and Raleigh counties will be open to bear gun hunting.

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Carpenter says oak mast from the red oak group appears to be more abundant in many areas than in 2019 and that black cherry and white oak can be found in pockets around the state.

Because bears change their feeding patterns throughout the fall as food sources are consumed, hunters should focus on finding fresh bear sign as close to the respective season as possible to find bruins.

Bear Premolar Submission Requirement

Hunters who harvest a black bear are required to submit a premolar tooth from each animal. Hunters who also harvest a female black bear are encouraged to save the reproductive tract or all the entrails. Hunters who submit a complete reproductive tract will be eligible for a $20 gift card.

Hunters can get a bear tooth envelope at their local DNR district offices or the Elkins Operations Center. Hunters with reproductive tracts or entrails should keep them cool or freeze them and contact their closest DNR district office and ask to speak with a Wildlife Resources Section representative to arrange pickup.

All bear hunters are required to purchase a bear damage stamp and hunting license. For more information about bear hunting seasons, visit wvdnr.gov or download a copy of the 2020-21 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary. To purchase a West Virginia hunting license, visit .


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