Hunters getting ready for the fall hunting seasons can now consult the 2017 Mast Survey and Hunting Outlook publication, available on the Division of Natural Resources' website at www.wvdnr.gov. Since 1971, the Wildlife Resources Section of DNR, in cooperation with volunteers from numerous other agencies, has conducted a fall mast survey to determine the abundance of mast produced by 18 species of trees and shrubs.

"The availability of fall foods has significant impacts on wildlife populations and harvests," said Chris Ryan, supervisor of the Game Management Services of DNR's Wildlife Resources Section. "Our biologists have used the mast survey data to demonstrate a strong correlation between mast conditions and deer, bear and turkey harvests. In addition to the impacts on harvests, the amount of food available each year can affect the reproductive success of numerous species which will affect population sizes in following years."

Production of acorns, walnuts, apples and hickory nuts is significantly higher than in 2016 and will have noticeable effects on the 2017-2018 hunting seasons. Most species produced mast well above the 46-year average.

"It is very important for hunters to scout and consider the type and amount of food available in the areas they hunt," Ryan said. "Hunters can find a wealth of facts in the Mast Survey and Hunting Outlook, and it should provide them valuable information before heading into the field."

The 2017 Mast Survey and Hunting Outlook may be found on the DNR website at www.wvdnr.gov under the Hunting section. Information analyzing mast conditions and wildlife harvests also is available on the website.

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