South Charleston, W.Va-(Ammoland.com)– West Virginia hunters harvested 2,385 black bears during the combined 2014 archery and firearms seasons, according to Colin Carpenter,
Black Bear Project Leader for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. The preliminary harvest data for the combined 2014 seasons were 11 percent lower than the 2013 harvest of 2,692 bears. The black bear harvest of 2014 marks the fifth time in five years that the harvest has topped 2,000 and is tied for the third highest harvest on record.
“Mast conditions in 2014 helped some hunters and hurt others,” said Carpenter. “The 2014 Mast Survey and Hunting Outlook documented vastly improved oak mast conditions over 2013. Historically, abundant oak mast has led to a decreased archery harvest and an increased December firearms harvest, and that scenario held true in 2014. Abundant oak mast statewide prevented archers from patterning bears effectively and led to a decreased archery harvest. However, abundant mast kept bruins out of their winter dens and available to be harvested in the December firearms season.”
Carpenter attributed the decrease in harvest during the September/October firearms seasons to a decrease in hunting days from six in 2013 to three in 2014 in the 16 counties that were open. There was a slight increase in harvest during the concurrent buck-gun/bear season over 2013. Overall, the decrease in archery and September/October firearms harvest was not offset by the increases in the buck-gun and December firearms harvest.
Hunters took 516 bears during the 2014 archery season. The top five counties were Webster (53), Preston (45), Fayette (42), Nicholas (39), and Randolph (39).
Firearms hunters harvested 1,869 bears during 2014. Hunters took 457 bears in September and October, 397 during the concurrent buck-gun/bear season, and 1,015 during the traditional December season. The top five counties were Pocahontas (182), Randolph (172), Greenbrier (167), Pendleton (167) and Webster (160).