South Charleston W.Va. - West Virginia gun hunters are blessed with an abundance of black bear hunting opportunities, according to Colin Carpenter, Black Bear Project leader for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. In addition to a five-week bow season for black bears, hunters may use a variety of different methods to pursue this magnificent animal, including concurrent hunting during the deer gun season, and hunting with or without dogs. Each of these seasons is county specific so hunters should consult the 2011-2012 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary for specifics.

A concurrent bear season without dogs will occur from Nov. 21 - Dec. 3 in all or parts of seven counties. Boone, Fayette, Kanawha, Monongalia, Morgan, Nicholas (private land), and Raleigh counties will be open for concurrent bear hunting during the traditional buck-gun season. This is a decrease from the 10 counties that were open for concurrent bear hunting during the buck-gun season in 2010.

"Counties that will be open for bear hunting during the buck-gun season are above their management objective and need additional bears harvested to achieve their goal," said Carpenter. "In addition, timing is critical when setting bear hunting seasons, and the concurrent buck-gun bear season will occur when the maximum number of hunters are in the woods. The spotty hard mast crop of 2011 means that hunters, to be successful, will have to find specific areas where bears are feeding. These special seasons offer a rare opportunity for hunters who may have never hunted bear and we hope that they take advantage of this additional chance."

Bear hunting opportunities abound after the buck-gun season as well. All or parts of 24 counties will be open for bear hunting with or without dogs from Dec. 5-31. In addition, all or parts of 37 counties will be open for bear hunting without dogs from Dec. 5-31.

Successful hunters are encouraged to submit a premolar tooth from each harvested bear. In addition, hunters who harvest a female black bear are encouraged to save the reproductive tract or all the entrails. Hunters can get a bear tooth envelope at all official game checking stations. Hunters with reproductive tracts or entrails should keep them cool and contact their nearest DNR District Wildlife Office to arrange a pick-up. Data obtained from tooth samples and reproductive tracts are used for black bear population monitoring.

Hunters are reminded to purchase their bear damage stamp as well as an appropriate hunting license. Details concerning bear hunting seasons can be found on pages 36-39 of the 2011-2012 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary.

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