There is a continuing increase in the black bear population in Calhoun, according to DNR officer Tom Fox..

In Bear Fork, the area's largest wilderness area, several bear have been spotted at one time near hunting camps. See recent bear paw on the Herald Bear Paw

"During the last ten years the numbers have steadily increased," said Fox, who said people should never feed the bears.

"Feeding a bear means a dead bear," he said.

Fifty years ago, schoolchildren across West Virginia selected the black bear as the state animal. At that time there were only about 500 of the animals statewide.

The Department of Natural Resources now estimates 12,000 bear are living in the Mountain State.

Paul Johansen, the DNR's assistant chief in charge of game management, says in the years past the bear was considered a nuisance and shot on sight.

Now, people view the animal as a valuable resource and an important game species.

DNR keeps tabs on black bear populations and adjusts hunting regulations to control the population.

This fall the Cranberry Closed Area in the Monongahela National Forest, a bear sanctuary since 1967, will reopen to hunters.

If you have Calhoun bear photos, we would consider publishing them.