SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia hunters harvested 2,682 black bears during the combined 2013 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 2013 seasons were nearly identical to the 2012 harvest of 2,691 bears.
The black bear harvest of 2013 marks the fourth time in the past five years that the harvest has topped 2,000 and is the second highest harvest on record.
“As always, mast conditions had a tremendous influence on the distribution of this year’s bear harvest,” said Johansen.
“The 2013 Mast Survey and Hunting Outlook documented the lowest statewide oak index in the survey’s history. However, oak mast was present in localized areas and was reported as most common in the higher elevations of the eastern mountains.
“An abundant beech and hickory crop statewide allowed the index for all hard mast to fall just 16 percent below the 42-year average.
“Decreased mast conditions statewide allowed archers to pattern bears effectively and led to an increased archery harvest. Decreased mast conditions also led to a decline in the December firearms season harvest.
“The combined effects of firearms hunting with or without hounds in September and October and the concurrent bear and deer hunting seasons in 29 counties helped offset the decline in harvest during the December season.”
Hunters took 851 bears during the 2013 archery season. The top five counties were Wyoming (75), Fayette (61), Raleigh (58), Logan (52) and Randolph (52).
Firearms hunters harvested 1,831 bears during 2013. Hunters took 679 bears in September and October, 361 during the concurrent buck/bear season, and 791 during the traditional December season.
The top five counties were Randolph (245), Pendleton (201), Greenbrier (151), Webster (134) and Pocahontas (131).