The Natural Resources Commission convened this week in Morgantown, West Virginia to finalize the fall hunting regulations. The approved package can now go out for printing and distribution to the hundreds of statewide license agents and be published online. Although deer matters usually dominate the quarterly meetings, the burgeoning black bear population got its turn in the barrel.
It’s no wonder with the bruins at all-time highs and hunters breaking kill records of some sort on an annual basis. However, damage complaints are exceeding the dollar amount of “bear damage” stamp license revenue needed to cover them. No coincidence that just like the record numbers of bears, these damage complaints are just following suit.
In testament, West Virginia hunters bagged a record 2,700 bruins just last year. To put that in perspective, the average annual kill for the decade of the 1980s was just shy of 200! That’s more than a tenfold increase in a generation. The growth curve for bears commencing about with the New Millennium looks like a rocket launch.
As you all have probably have heard now that Gary Knapp has stepped down from the president position. He has done a great deal for us in his last 30 plus years fighting for us dog hunters. I myself and others have seen him in action, fight for us. I am sure he will continue to fight; it is in his blood I believe. He probably just won’t be playing such an active role now. As I would like to think him on behalf of the West Virginia Bear Hunters Association, for everything he has done in the past and also in the future.
I would like to thank everyone for giving me this opportunity. I know I have a big set of shoes to fill and will do my best to fill them. We still have a bumpy road ahead of us. I have had the opportunity this past Thursday to go out with bear biologist to locate a sow and her cub. Unfortunately we were unable to locate her she had moved out of her den. The cub was also not there which he should have been. Well I guess you can say we had a good walk and training for me before I hit the woods for training season. As training season now comes along please remember that you represent something bigger than just yourself. You represent all bear hunters. How people see what you do is how they see us all. I am just asking you to be polite and respectful whenever possible.