Possible Hunting Changes In VA Regulations

Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries, Bear Hunting Magazine

The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is about to launch an energetic road show to parade more than 50 pages of hunting/trapping proposed regulation changes before public gatherings in 10 locations across Virginia.

In the past, similar public input meeting have drawn sparse crowds, occasionally attracting fewer sportsmen than DGIF staff members, but this time could be different. There are several hot items on the agenda including a license for bear hunting.

Here are those pertaining directly to bear hunting:

Bear Facts: In the late 1960s to the early 1980s some predicted that the future of the black bear in Virginia was bleak. Now there are so many that wildlife officials are fearful they will reach nuisance status.

To keep the population in check, biologists proposed several bold new bear hunting regulations, some designed to increase the kill by 60 percent in the northwest mountain area.

The reaction of organized bear hunters was Too much, too fast, and that got the ear of the DGIF board which put the brakes on the recommendations of biologists. Even so, several proposals remain:

" Two additional weeks of bear hunting during the early bow season, making archery bear hunting concurrent with early deer hunting.

" Add 35 counties to the six week general firearms bear season. This would include the portion of Roanoke County north of I-81.

" Increase the number of days and counties open to muzzleloading bear hunting.

" Open the firearms bear season a day early, on a Saturday rather than a Monday. This proposal was made after one failed that would have established a six day firearms season in late September in all or portions of Alleghany, Augusta, Bath, Botetourt, Highland, Shenandoah, Rockbridge, Rockingham and Roanoke counties.

" Another proposal, one requested by the Virginia Bear Hunters Association, would establish a special license for bear hunting. This will be the most controversial of all proposals, having already received more than 100 DGIF online comments.

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