Virginia Releases 2012 Bear Harvest TotalsVirginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries, Bear Hunting Magazine
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries released their preliminary figures for black bear harvests for last year. A total of 2,144 bears were harvested combined from archery, muzzleloader, and firearms harvests. The 2012 numbers resulted in an approximate 7% increase over last year's initial reported harvest of 1,997 bears. Sows represented 36% of the total, which was a smaller proportion of the total harvest compared to the previous 3-year average female harvest of 42%.
Archery hunters accounted for 513 bears during 2012, representing 24% of the total harvest. Archery success typically increases during poor mast years and decreases when acorns are abundant. As expected, with a better mast crop in the fall of 2012 than 2011, archery success decreased this year compared to last year and was lower than the previous 3-year average (33% of the total harvest.) The top three archery counties were Augusta (32), Rockingham (30), and Page (24).
Crossbow hunters accounted for 44% of the total archery harvest in 2012. Muzzleloader hunting opportunities were expanded in 2011, and the second year of the statewide one-week muzzleloader harvest accounted for 415 bears (19% of the total harvest). This is an increase over the previous 3-year average (15% of the total harvest.) The 2012 muzzleloader harvest represented the highest proportion of the total harvest since a special muzzleloader season was implemented in the state. The top three muzzleloading counties were Rockingham (22), Botetourt (18), and Bath (18).
Representing 57% of the total harvest, the 2012 firearms season yielded 1,216 bears, an increase from the 2011 harvest and greater than the previous 3-year average (52% of the total harvest).
Hound hunters accounted for 59% of the firearms harvest in 2012 (33% of the statewide harvest), which was an increase over the previous 3-year average of 56% of the firearms harvest and 29% of the total statewide harvest.
The top three general firearms counties were Rockingham (89), Nelson (75) and Craig (63). General firearms hunters who did not use hounds harvested 40% females, a reduction from the previous 3-year average female harvest of 42%. Hound hunters harvested 34% females down from the previous 3-year average female harvest of 36%.