Hunters Harvest 1,236 Bears in 2004

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West Virginia bear hunters harvested 1,236 bears during the combined 2004 archery and firearms season, according to Frank Jezioro, Director of the Division of Natural Resources. The preliminary harvest data is 28 percent (477) lower than the previous harvest record of 1,713 established in 2003. The official harvest numbers will be available in the West Virginia Big Game Bulletin in late March 2005 .

“The harvest was very close to what we expected,” said Jezioro. “A dispersed white and chestnut oak acorn crop throughout the state made it much harder for archery hunters to harvest bears. However, it supplied gun hunters with one of the best bear seasons in the history of the state.

“In addition to the good mast crop and healthy bear population, the Nicholas County gun season was shortened, which reduced the harvest slightly below last year. West Virginia continues to have one of the best bear populations in the country thanks to good management and research combined with great cooperation from hunters and private landowners,” Jezioro said.

Gun hunters harvested 871 bears, which is the third highest on record. The top six gun counties were Randolph (92), Pocahontas (91), Pendleton (85), Greenbrier (80), Kanawha (67), and Boone (67).

Archery hunters harvested 365 bears, which was 53 percent lower than the previous record of 771 established in 2003. The top five counties were Randolph (46), Nicholas (44), Webster (41), Greenbrier (35), and Kanawha (25).