Bear Gun Season Opens December 3

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The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources reminds hunters that the firearms season for black bear will open Monday, December 3, according to Curtis Taylor, Chief of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources' Wildlife Resources Section.

West Virginia's bear firearm season will run December 3 through December 5 in Braxton, Clay, Hampshire (South of Rt-50), Logan, McDowell, Mineral (East of New Creek), Upshur and Wyoming counties. Use of dogs in these areas is prohibited.

Barbour (East of Rt-92), Boone, Fayette, Grant, Greenbrier, Hardy, Kanawha, Mineral (West of New Creek), Monroe (East of Rt-219), Nicholas, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Preston, Raleigh (West of I-77), Randolph, Tucker and Webster counties will be open to bear hunting with firearms from December 3 through December 31, and the use of dogs is permitted in these counties.

"West Virginia's bear population remains high and a good harvest is expected," Taylor said. "However, the harvest may not reach the record gun kill of last season because of lower numbers of yearling bears available. Sows had an excellent cub year in 1998 which provided many yearling bears of harvestable size for 2000. Over 53% of last years' kill were yearlings. The next high yearling crop should occur in 2002."

The DNR is currently studying factors related to the productivity and mortality of black bears in West Virginia. A large number of bears are carrying radio collars, radio implants, ear tags, and lip tattoos. Any hunter harvesting a bear with a radio or ear tag should return this equipment to the DNR. Successful hunters can contribute to research efforts by allowing a tooth to be pulled and submitted for aging. Hunters contributing a tooth will be notified about the age of their animal. Hunters killing female bears are requested to help collect reproductive tracts, and they will also be notified about the reproductive success of the bear they harvested. Instructions for collection reproductive tracts can be found in hunting regulations and on the WVDNR web site at www.dnr.state.wv.us.

Hunters are advised to refer to the 2001-2002 West Virginia Hunting and Trapping Regulations for details in collecting tracts. Information from these tracts will allow biologists to determine breeding age of females, number of cubs produced and reproductive success.