BECKLEY, W.Va. — The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources announced today that two early firearms seasons for black bear are set to open in September and October and reminded hunters to get ready by purchasing their license and stamps online at WVhunt.com.
The first early season will be open Sept. 2-10 in Logan, McDowell, Mingo and Wyoming counties. The second will be open Oct. 7-13 in Boone, Fayette, Kanawha, Nicholas and Raleigh counties. Hunters may hunt with or without dogs during both seasons.
“Counties that will be open for early bear hunting are above their management objective, and additional bears need to be harvested for these areas to achieve their goal,” said Colin Carpenter, black bear project leader for the WVDNR. “The benefit of early seasons is that all bears are available to be harvested because den entrance is still two or more months away.
Hunters who participate in the first season should look for bears near stands of black cherry that have fruit or in areas with abundant autumn olive. The second season occurs at the peak of acorn drop, so bears will be feeding heavily in these red oak stands, where mast appears to be more abundant in most areas than in 2022.
“Bears change their feeding patterns throughout the fall as food sources are consumed, so hunters should focus on finding fresh signs of bear activity as close to the respective season as possible,” Carpenter said.
Hunters who harvest a bear are required to submit a premolar tooth from each bear. Hunters who harvest a female black bear are encouraged to save and submit the complete reproductive tract to the WVDNR for a $20 gift card. The WVDNR uses data obtained from tooth samples and reproductive tracts to monitor the black bear population.
Hunters can get a bear tooth envelope at their local WVDNR district office or at the Elkins Operation Center. Hunters who have saved bear reproductive tracts or entrails should keep them cool or freeze them and contact their nearest WVDNR district office to arrange a pick-up.
Resident hunters also are reminded to purchase a bear damage stamp along with their hunting license. Nonresident hunters are required to purchase a bear hunting license and bear damage stamp. Licenses and stamps are available online at WVhunt.com and at license retailers around the state.
For more information about bear hunting, check pages 35-40 in the 2023-2024 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary available at license agents across the state and at WVdnr.gov/hunting/hunting-regulations.