Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

DNR Proposes More Liberal 2016 Season

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

DNR Proposes More Liberal 2016 Season

Article excerpt

West Virginia wildlife officials have proposed regulations that would allow hunters to kill more white-tailed deer, black bears and turkeys this fall. The proposals came less than two months after hunters enjoyed especially good hunting for deer and bears. Deer hunters enjoyed their best buck kill since 2009, and bear hunters enjoyed their best season ever.

Division of Natural Resources biologists made the proposals during Sunday's quarterly meeting of the state Natural Resources Commission, the seven-man panel that sets season lengths and bag limits. If approved, the revised limits would encourage hunters to control deer and bear populations by allowing them to kill more antlerless deer and more female bears.

Gary Foster, the DNR's game management supervisor, said the changes were prescribed in the state's management plans for both species.

"Our deer and bear operational plans give us guidance on the setting of the seasons, Foster explained. "Typically when harvests are up, it means we are at or above our harvest objectives and need to allow additional harvest to bring the populations back to prescribed levels.

Under the proposals, antlerless deer bag limits would become more liberal in 21 counties or parts of counties, more restrictive in two, and would remain the same in 33.

In the more-liberal category, eight counties that were closed to antlerless-deer hunting in 2015 would be open under limited-permit hunting in 2016: Boone, southern Clay, northern Greenbrier, western Mineral, western Pendleton, Tucker, northern Wayne and Webster. Those counties would have a one-deer bag limit.

Two counties that were open to limited-permit hunting in 2015 would be open to unlimited-permit hunting in 2016: Mercer and Randolph. Those counties would also have a one-deer limit.

Five unlimited-permit counties that had one-deer limits in 2015 would have a three-deer limit in 2016: eastern Pendleton, Pleasants, Preston, Summers and Taylor.

Six unlimited-permit counties that had three-deer limits in 2015 would have three-deer bag limits in 2016, with an added stipulation that hunters would be required to kill an antlerless deer before they would be allowed to kill a second buck: Gilmer, Hardy, Lewis, Upshur, Wetzel and Wirt.

On the more-restrictive side, one county that had a three-deer limit with the second-buck stipulation in 2015 would have only a three-deer limit in 2016: Monroe. Also, one county that had a three- deer limit in 2016 would have a one-deer limit in 2016: Ohio.

The antlerless-deer limits in all other counties, or parts of counties, would remain the same.

Thirteen counties would have more liberal regulations for bears this fall:

* Gilmer, Harrison, Lincoln and Wirt counties, which were open to hunting without hounds only during the archery and traditional December seasons in 2015, would also become open to limited-permit hunting during the 2016 firearm season for buck deer. …

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