CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A shortage in acorns and other foods that black bears eat could send the animals into hibernation early and potentially hurt the upcoming firearm hunting season, West Virginia wildlife officials said.

Colin Carpenter, bear project leader for the state’s Division of Natural Resources, said that while the state’s bear hunters have had a good season so far, the December black-bear firearm harvest will likely remain below than last year.

The bear harvest typically declines when acorns and other foods that bears like are in poor supply, Carpenter said.

“This year, the acorn crop was pretty spotty, so we’re expecting a somewhat poorer kill,” he told the Charleston Gazette-Mail that.

Hunters will likely see more success early in December than if they wait until later in the month, he said. And the time bears go into hibernation will also vary depending on the area of the state. In West Virginia’s high country, where it gets colder earlier, bears will likely head to their dens earlier than bears that live in lower elevations.

But Carpenter says that bear hunters will likely fare pretty well overall this year. Officials are expecting a record harvest this archery season and say that will likely offset any shortfall that the state sees in the bear harvest during next month’s firearm season.


Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail,