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Black bears and bass highlight the change proposals

Bob FalaOutdoors Columnist

March 3, 2013

West Virginia DNR has just unveiled its proposals for this fall’s hunting and next year’s fishing regulation packages. They will now go out for the March public meeting circuit. After compilation, the civilian Natural Resource Commission s can vote on them at their next session in late April.


In the realm of new changes which after all is what all the anticipation is about, black bears take front and center with a touch for black bass on the tail end. So here’s the skinny.


This is not to say that the wild boar, turkey and deer prescriptions are exactly the same as last year but they’re pretty dang close except for some fine tuning on a county basis. Black bears on the other hand have been increasing for decades in the face of substantial and record breaking hunting pressure. The prescription for this fall is for more of the same. That is, more hunting for more bears.


The big new kicker for bears is a suite of 19 mostly central and northern national forest counties that will provide gun bear hunting (without dogs) during the two-week gun buck season.


However, these will be on a permit basis by county. The 19 counties are: Barbour, Braxton, Clay Grant, Greenbrier, Hardy, Lewis, Mercer, Mineral, Monroe, Nicholas, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Randolph, Summers, Taylor, Tucker, Upshur and Webster.


These 19 counties are over and above Boone, Fayette, Kanawha, Preston and Raleigh which will provide the same opportunity on an unlimited basis without any special permit.


The bear limit will remain at two per season provided that at least one comes from the following eight coalfield counties of the Mountain State’s southern sector: Boone, Fayette, Kanawha, Logan, McDowell, Mingo, Raleigh and Wyoming.


Moving on to the famous catch and release largemouth bass fishery of Stonewall Jackson Lake in Lewis County. A score of years has passed since the filling of this Army Corps lake and the quality of the relatively new fishery’s bass is somewhat in decline. In order to maintain it, catch and keep is proposed with a six bass limit of which only one may be greater than 18 inches in length effective for 2014.


This means that bass tournament anglers that have been waiting for this day will get a crack at the lake’s bass which now includes a growing population of spotted bass as well. Prior to this change, tournament anglers could not participate or at least boat their catch for documentation. Not that any fishing outdoor enthusiast would lie….


The popular Stonewall Jackson Lake State Park is proposed for a special deer herd hunt. We’ll keep you posted on the application procedure when the time comes. In one other matter of importance at the request of the Commission, public comment is being taken on the question as to reducing the total buck annual buck limit from the present three to either two or one. Stay tuned for the final outcome on that one.


To provide input on these or other matters relating to general recommendations, seasons and bag limits, you can attend the Sectional Meeting near you on March 19 from 6-8 p.m. at Chief Logan State Park Conference Center or Twin Falls State Park.


If you can’t attend, the questionnaire is available on-line at www.wvdnr.gov . However, you must print the form, fill it out and mail in the materials to be counted.