SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia hunters harvested 2,683 black bears during the combined 2012 archery and firearms seasons, according to Colin Carpenter, Black Bear Project leader for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.
The harvest for the combined 2012 seasons was 34 percent higher than the 2011 harvest of 2,009 bears and 12 percent higher than the previous record harvest of 2,392 established in 2010.
The black bear harvest of 2012 marks the fourth time in the past five years that the harvest has topped 2,000.
“As predicted in the 2012 DNR Mast Survey and Hunting Outlook publication, mast conditions had a tremendous influence on the distribution of this year’s bear harvest,” said Carpenter.
“The statewide oak mast index for 2012 was much higher than in 2011 but the distribution was spotty. This fact, combined with two additional weeks of archery hunting, allowed archers to locate bears effectively and led to an increased archery harvest.”
Abundant oak mast keeps bears active into the winter and makes these bears vulnerable to harvest during concurrent buck-gun and bear seasons and the traditional December firearms season. Favorable mast conditions, combined with multiple counties open during September, led to a large increase in the firearms harvest.”
Hunters took 746 bears during the 2012 archery season. The top five counties were Webster (71), Nicholas (67), Randolph (57), Fayette (55) and Preston (51).
Firearms hunters harvested 1,937 bears during 2012. Hunters took 681 bears in September, 266 during the concurrent buck/bear season and 990 during the traditional December season. The top five counties were Pocahontas (183), Pendleton (179), Randolph (163), Webster (151) and Greenbrier (148).
The harvest in some Potomac Highlands counties was substantial.
There were 114 bears killed in Grant County, 72 in Hampshire, 146 in Hardy and 195 in Pendleton. There were 18 bears killed in Morgan County.