Virginia Releases 2012 Bear Harvest Totals

Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries, Bear Hunting Magazine
02/28/2013

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries released their preliminary figures for black bear harvests for last year. A total of 2,144 bears were harvested combined from archery, muzzleloader, and firearms harvests. The 2012 numbers resulted in an approximate 7% increase over last year's initial reported harvest of 1,997 bears. Sows represented 36% of the total, which was a smaller proportion of the total harvest compared to the previous 3-year average female harvest of 42%.

Archery hunters accounted for 513 bears during 2012, representing 24% of the total harvest. Archery success typically increases during poor mast years and decreases when acorns are abundant. As expected, with a better mast crop in the fall of 2012 than 2011, archery success decreased this year compared to last year and was lower than the previous 3-year average (33% of the total harvest.) The top three archery counties were Augusta (32), Rockingham (30), and Page (24).

Crossbow hunters accounted for 44% of the total archery harvest in 2012. Muzzleloader hunting opportunities were expanded in 2011, and the second year of the statewide one-week muzzleloader harvest accounted for 415 bears (19% of the total harvest). This is an increase over the previous 3-year average (15% of the total harvest.) The 2012 muzzleloader harvest represented the highest proportion of the total harvest since a special muzzleloader season was implemented in the state. The top three muzzleloading counties were Rockingham (22), Botetourt (18), and Bath (18).

Representing 57% of the total harvest, the 2012 firearms season yielded 1,216 bears, an increase from the 2011 harvest and greater than the previous 3-year average (52% of the total harvest).

Hound hunters accounted for 59% of the firearms harvest in 2012 (33% of the statewide harvest), which was an increase over the previous 3-year average of 56% of the firearms harvest and 29% of the total statewide harvest.

The top three general firearms counties were Rockingham (89), Nelson (75) and Craig (63). General firearms hunters who did not use hounds harvested 40% females, a reduction from the previous 3-year average female harvest of 42%. Hound hunters harvested 34% females down from the previous 3-year average female harvest of 36%.



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