DNR proposes bear season

March 18, 1998|By AMY WALLAUER

DNR proposes bear season

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Morgan County hunters could have an extended antlerless deer season next year and be permitted to hunt black bear if proposed hunting regulations are met favorably.

The state Division of Natural Resources announced the proposed changes at a public meeting Wednesday night in Martinsburg, where about 170 sportsmen gathered to offer suggestions for next year's hunting and fishing regulations.

The possible changes:

* Morgan County could open bow hunting for black bear from Oct. 17 to Nov. 23.

* Morgan County could allow a nine-day antlerless season from Nov. 23 to Nov. 25 on private property and the normal hunting season of Dec. 7 to Dec. 12.


* Berkeley and Jefferson counties could retain the six-day hunting season in December, but allow out-of-state hunters, too.

Some voiced opposition to allowing nonresidents hunt in the Panhandle, fearful it will limit their supply.

Others said they don't mind sharing the herd, but DNR should give residents some leeway.

"I'm not opposed to hunters coming in from out-of-state," said Roy Greenfield of Inwood, W.Va. "If they can come in and do that, it's fine, but why can't residents use unused stamps?"

A hunting license allows a hunter to kill one buck with a bow and one with a rifle. Additional stamps can be bought for up to five more deer, but must be purchased at the beginning of the season.

"If you can't fulfill the tags one season, let us use them the next season," said Gary Walsh of Shepherdstown, W.Va.

Officials from DNR said the reason for opening the season to nonresidents and extending the antlerless deer season is overpopulation. Deer are starving, causing heavy damage to farmers' crops, and have had disease and parasite problems, officials said.

The antlerless population problem isn't new. In 1988, DNR increased the season from two to three days statewide. In 1991, it increased the limit.

Two years ago, DNR allowed 12 counties to go from a three- to six-day season and in 1997, 22 counties had a seven-day season.

With the weeklong season last year, DNR hoped for 125,000 kills statewide. Hunters fell short by 45,000.

Mark Burkhart, a Martinsburg hunter and landowner, had another suggestion for weeding out antlerless deer.

"I would like to see liberal bag limits," he told DNR officials. "Lift the bag limit restrictions and let us shoot the deer."

Officials said black bear are also becoming a problem - they've been seen dead along the roads after coming into civilization.

DNR is holding 15 public meetings across the state before setting regulations for next year. The public is permitted to comment on the proposed regulations before April 1.

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