West Virginia Adds Early Bear Hunting Season

WV Division of Natural Resources, Bear Hunting Magazine

Hunters are being allowed to hunt black bears early in some West Virginia counties this year in an attempt to reduce a growing bear population.

The early season began on Thursday in Raleigh, Fayette, Boone and Kanawha counties and will run through September 27.

An early hunting season will be held September 22 through September 27 in Barbour, Grant, Greenbrier, Hardy, Nicholas, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Preston, Randolph, Tucker and Webster counties.

Division of Natural Resources wildlife biologist Larry Berry says DNR officials hope to increase the number of female bears killed to stabilize the population.

"Although a record number of bears were harvested in 2007," Berry said. "This years early bear season was implemented to help further reduce their population, in some cases by an additional 10 percent. Bear hunters harvested 1,807 animals in 2007, with Raleigh, Fayette, Boone and Kanawha accounting for about 22 percent of the states total kill."

Berry stated that in western Raleigh County near Morris Creek bear density is estimated to be as high as four bears per square mile, and other regions in the four counties are in the two-to-four bears per square mile range, he said. In rural areas, bear densities of two to three per square mile are preferred.

"We are in uncharted waters with this early bear season and many believe theres a possibility of taking some big, trophy bears this year," Berry said. "Theres a lot of talk by bear hunters who believe some of the larger bears just seem to lay down for the winter earlier than other bears, and those are not available to harvest during the regular bear season."

The regular bear archery season begins October 18 and the firearms season begins December 8.

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