SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia hunters harvested 2,007 black bears during the combined 2011 archery and firearms seasons, according to Paul Johansen, assistant chief in charge of game management for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.
The preliminary harvest data for the combined 2011 seasons was 16 percent lower than the record harvest of 2,392 established in 2010.
The 2011 black bear harvest is the third highest in West Virginia history.
“As predicted in the 2011 Mast Survey and Hunting Outlook brochure, mast conditions had a tremendous influence on the distribution of this year’s bear harvest,” said Johansen.
“Lower mast availability in 2011 allowed archers to pattern bears more effectively and led to an increased archery harvest.”
However, a shortage of fall foods drives bears to den earlier, which leads to a lower firearms harvest in the traditional December season. The firearm harvest for bears remained steady compared to previous years because of the early firearms seasons.
Hunters took 619 bears during the 2011 archery season. The top five counties were Randolph (70); Preston (56); Nicholas (44); Webster (41) and Wyoming (34).
Firearm hunters harvested 1,388 bears during 2011. Hunters took 631 bears in September, 76 during the concurrent buck/bear season, and 681 during the traditional December season. The top five counties were Randolph (148); Greenbrier (141); Pendleton (132); Pocahontas (112) and Webster (110).