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The Wildlife Section and the Law Enforcement Section of the DNR and the Division of Forestry have conducted surveys of mast abundance of 18 tree and shrub species that are important wildlife foods. The average of all mast species in 2003 was better than 2002 primarily because of the exceptional production of beech, walnut, and hickory hard mast. However, the most devastating news in regard to mast was that oak mast production was very low with the second lowest indices since the survey was started in 1970. Even more disturbing was that our overall mast indices have been below average for three years in succession.
Last year it was the freezing weather in late May that took its toll on flowering mast producing trees and shrubs, especially on the lower ridges and valleys over most of the State. This year it appears that the wet weather had a negative impact on flowering and pollination. About every major weather station had above average rainfall in May, and these wet conditions must have occurred at the peak of oak flowering and pollination.
Please check back after September 15th for 2003 results and outlook.
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© 2003 West Virginia Division of Natural Resources