Traditional Black Bear Gun Season Opens December 5

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The 2005 traditional black bear gun season will open December 5, 2005 , in selected counties, according to Curtis I. Taylor, Chief of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources' Wildlife Resources Section. More than 26,000 hunters will take to the woods this fall in pursuit of West Virginia 's largest game species.

Hard mast (e.g., acorns, hickory nuts and beech nuts) conditions are generally more plentiful this year, which should provide hunters with excellent bear hunting opportunities throughout December, according to Chris W. Ryan, Black Bear Project Leader for the Division of Natural Resources. Biologists have identified a direct correlation between hard mast indices and December black bear gun seasons. In years of abundant hard mast crops, bears remain out of their winter dens longer, making them more susceptible to hunting and increasing the bear harvest. A good crop of red oak, scarlet oak and scrub oak acorns should supply ample food sources for black bears throughout most of West Virginia . In addition, beech and hickory production is higher this year than 2004. Unless the majority of West Virginia receives extreme winter weather in December, the 2005 black bear harvest should be higher than last year's 1,235. The majority of the black bear harvest comes during the traditional December gun seasons when hunters may use hounds in certain counties.

Resident hunters are reminded that they must purchase a Bear Stamp (Class DS) in addition to their regular hunting license. Nonresidents must purchase a Nonresident Bear Hunting License (Class EE), Conservation/Law Enforcement Stamp (Class CS/LE) and a Bear Stamp (Class DS) to pursue black bears in the state. Licenses may be purchased online and printed out at

Bear regulations concerning gun hunting and use of hounds are county specific, and hunters should consult the 2005-2006 West Virginia Hunting and Trapping Regulations brochure for details or visit the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources' Web site at .