Edited from a Press Release

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. - An early black bear season during which hunters can choose whether or not to use dogs  runs Sept. 19-25 in all or parts of 15 counties will be open to bear hunting Sept. 19 - 25 and four counties will be open Oct. 3 - 9,  according to Colin Carpenter, Black Bear Project leader for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.


The counties or parts of counties open to bear hunting with or without dogs Sept. 19 - 25 include Barbour (east of State route 92), Braxton (east of I – 79), Clay (south of Elk River), Grant, Greenbrier, Hardy, Monroe (east of U.S. route 219), Nicholas, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Preston, Randolph, Tucker, Upshur (east of State route 20), and Webster. The counties open for bear hunting with or without dogs Oct. 3 - 9 include Boone, Fayette, Kanawha and Raleigh.


“Counties open for early bear hunting are above their management objective,” said Carpenter.  “We need to harvest additional bears to achieve our goal. The benefit of early seasons is that bears won’t be entering their dens for another two or more months, so all bears are available to be harvested.


“Oak mast appears to be less abundant in most areas than in 2014, but hickory, beech, and most of the soft mast species have done well,” said Carpenter. “Bears often feed heavily on soft mast early in the season before hard mast becomes available.  Therefore, hunters who focus their efforts near black cherry trees that have fruit, abandoned apple orchards and autumn olive thickets should be able to find bruins.”


DNR Wildlife Resources Section personnel encourage successful hunters to submit a premolar tooth from each harvested bear to DNR. In addition, hunters who harvest a female black bear are encouraged to save the reproductive tract or all the entrails.


Hunters can get a bear tooth envelope at all Wildlife Resources Section district offices and the Elkins Operations Center. Hunters with reproductive tracts or entrails should keep them cool or freeze them and contact their nearest Wildlife Resources district office to arrange pick-up. 


Data obtained from tooth samples and reproductive tracts are used for black bear population monitoring. Hunters are reminded to purchase their bear damage stamp as well as an appropriate hunting license.  Details concerning bear hunting seasons can be found on pages 36-39 of the 2015-2016 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary.