West Virginia Bear Harvest Declines in 2021

Hunters in the Mountain State faced a bumper mast crop that decreased bear movement.

West Virginia Bear Harvest Declines in 2021

The West Virginia black bear harvest in 2021 declined from the previous year due to abundant food sources. Photo: iStock Photo/Lynn_Bystrom

West Virginia hunters killed 2,756 black bears in 2021, a 22 percent decrease from the year before, according to the West Virginia DNR. Hunters killed 3,541 bears in 2020. 

State wildlife officials attributed the decline in 2021’s harvest to an abundant mast crop that was 61 percent above the 2020 production. Logically, more food means less movement for bears or other wildlife feeding on nuts and berries. “Historically, abundant mast yields result in a decreased bow and crossbow harvest and an increased December firearms harvest,” said Colin Carpenter, Black Bear Project Leader for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. “Abundant food in the fall makes bears harder to pattern for bow/crossbow hunters but keeps bears from denning early for the December season.” The 2021 harvest increased during the December gun season from 2020. Hunters killed 342 bears with vertical bows and 297 with crossbows during the Sept. 25-Nov. 21 early season. Fayette (55), McDowell (52), Nicholas (42), Logan (40) and Wyoming (38) were the top five counties. Firearms hunters harvested 2,117 bears during 2021, including 900 during the traditional December season. Pocahontas (186), Nicholas (167), Randolph (161), Boone (157) and Pendleton (137) were the top five counties.


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