SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.VA. — A concurrent bear hunting season without dogs will open alongside West Virginia’s buck firearms season in 51 counties on Monday, Nov. 23.
“Counties that will be open for bear hunting during the buck gun season have been opened to slow bear population growth and provide additional hunting opportunity,” said Colin Carpenter, Black Bear Project Leader for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. “Timing is critical when setting bear hunting seasons, and the concurrent buck gun bear season will occur when the maximum number of hunters are in the woods.
All counties that are open to buck firearms hunting will be open to concurrent bear hunting on private and public land from Nov. 23 to Dec. 6. Buck firearms season is closed in Logan, McDowell, Mingo and Wyoming counties.
Carpenter says mast conditions vary widely based on location. In many areas of the state, abundant red oak group mast means bears will be dispersed across the landscape.
“We’re now seeing bears in counties where they have been absent for decades, so there has never been a better opportunity to hunt a bear in West Virginia,” Carpenter said. “These special seasons offer a unique opportunity for hunters who may have never bear hunted before to harvest a bear and we hope that they take advantage of this additional chance.”
Bear hunting opportunities continue after the buck firearms season as well. From Dec. 7-31, all or parts of 24 counties will be open for bear hunting with or without dogs, while all or parts of 37 counties will be open for bear hunting without dogs.
Hunters Must Submit First Premolar Tooth From Harvested Black Bears
Successful hunters are required to submit a first premolar tooth from each harvested bear. Information on how to collect and submit a black bear first premolar tooth can be found on page 37 of the 2020-2021 Hunting and Trapping Regulations. Hunters who harvest a female black bear are also encouraged to save the reproductive tract or all the entrails. The WVDNR will send hunters who submit a complete reproductive tract a $20 gift card.
Hunters should keep harvested bear reproductive tracts and entrails cool or freeze them before contacting their nearest district office or the Elkins Operations Center to arrange drop-off. Hunters can get a bear tooth envelope and information on what a complete reproductive tract consists of at all district offices or the Elkins Operations Center. The WVDNR uses data obtained from tooth samples and reproductive tracts to monitor the state’s black bear population.
Black Bear Hunters Must Purchase Bear Damage Stamp
Resident hunters are reminded to purchase their bear damage stamp (Class DS) when they buy their hunting license. Non-resident hunters must purchase a Class EE license plus the bear damage stamp to hunt bear in West Virginia. Details concerning bear hunting seasons can be found on pages 34-40 of the 2020-2021 Hunting and Trapping Regulations, available at WVDNR offices, license vendors across the state and at wvhunt.com.