West Virginia Hunters Post Record Season for Bear Hunting in 2020

by Chris Haney

On Tuesday, West Virginia officials announced that the state had a record-breaking bear hunting season in 2020.

Michael Hollan of FOX News relayed the bear hunting report from the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. Hunters in the state harvested a record number of black bears this past season. In addition to West Virginia’s record numbers, numerous other states have also announced record-breaking bear hunting seasons.

The WVDNR reported that 3,541 black bears were harvested during last season’s firearms and bow hunting season. The new record shatters the previous 2015 record of 3,201 black bears harvested.

In addition, the WVDNR report said that the state had a 14 percent increase over the previous season’s 3,099 bears taken in 2019. In fact, West Virginia hunters have harvested more than 3,000 black bears during five out of the last six seasons.

“We saw increased harvest numbers during the September/October and bow/crossbow seasons. And then numbers decreased slightly during the buck-gun and December seasons,” WVDNR bear project leader Colin Carpenter explained.

West Virgina hunters killed 1,095 bears during the first part of the 2020 archery/crossbow bear hunting season. From Sept. 26 to Nov. 22, hunters harvested 569 bears with vertical bows and 526 bears with crossbows.

The state’s firearms hunters harvested a total of 2,442 bears in 2020. During September and October, hunters harvested 1,225 bears in West Virginia. For the concurrent buck-gun and bear hunting season, 470 black bears were killed.

During the traditional December season, hunters harvested 747 black bears. Additionally, hunters killed four bears during the third Mountaineer Heritage Season.

Bear Hunting Season Records Broken in Multiple States

Last year saw an increase in firearm sales and outdoor recreation in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether because people had more time on their hands or they looked for further ways to provide food during tough times, many states have shown increased hunting numbers.

The New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game announced last month that hunters killed 1,183 black bears during the 2020 season. That totals a 33% increase from 2019’s harvest and is also 42% higher than the five-year average.

Another state that reported record numbers during bear hunting season was Vermont. Hunters took 914 bears as the sport’s popularity surged in 2020 during the pandemic. Vermont’s hunters broke the previous record set in 2019 with 750 bears. Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department’s bear biologist Forrest Hammond said that cabin fever definitely contributed to the uptick.