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Bear - General Regulations
2014-2015 Hunting Regulations

Penalties for Chapter 20 Bear Law Viloations | Field Tagging, Checking and Transporting | Dog Training | Bear Tooth Collection | Bear Reproductive Tract Collection

Daily Limit: 1

Resident and Nonresident Bear Hunting License Privileges

Two black bear may be taken during the archery season or firearms season, or one each in the archery and firearms seasons combined provided that at least one bear must  be taken in Boone, Fayette, Kanawha, Logan, McDowell, Mingo, Nicholas, Raleigh or Wyoming counties. No person may take more than one bear per day.

To hunt black bear, hunters must possess one of the following valid license combinations: resident license (Classes X+DS, Classes XJ+DS, Classes AHJ+DS, Class XS, Classes AB-L+DS, Classes A-L+DS, Classes A+CS+DS+BG or Classes AH+CS+DS+BG); or a free license (Military, Disabled Veteran, former POW, Senior Citizen or Class DT); or nonresident license (Classes EE+DS+CS/LE or Class DT). Underage residents and resident landowners (see page 10) hunting on their own land may hunt bear without a license. Class DT license holders must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or, with written consent of the parent or guardian, any other competent licensed adult 21 years of age or older.

Additional licenses must be purchased:

  • to hunt on National Forest lands: Class I (required for Class EE)
  • to hunt with a handgun: Class A-1 (must be 21 or older, required for all hunters except resident landowners)

It is illegal to:

  • hunt bears with the use of bait.
  • bait or feed bears at any time.
  • hunt a bear with:
    • a shotgun using ammunition loaded with more than one solid ball.
    • a rifle of less than .25 caliber using rimfire ammunition.
    • a pistol or revolver using a straight-walled case of less than .357 magnum cartridge or a bottlenecked case of less than .24 caliber.
    • a muzzleloading pistol of less than .38 caliber.
    • a crossbow, except for the holder of a Class Y or YY permit during designated archery season. Crossbows must have:
      • a draw weight of at least 125 pounds.
      • a working safety.
      • bolts at least 18 inches long.
      • broadheads with at least two cutting edges at least ¾ inch in width.
    • arrows having less than two sharp cutting edges, measuring less than ¾ inch in width.
  • use a bow-locking device, except with a modified bow permit issued by the Director.
  • use an arrow with an explosive, drug-laced or poisoned head or shaft.
  • hunt bear between ½ hour after sunset and ½ hour before sunrise.
  • kill or attempt to kill any bear through the use of poison, explosives, snares, steel traps or deadfalls.
  • shoot at or kill a bear weighing less than 75 pounds live weight or 50 pounds field dressed weight or to kill any bear accompanied by a cub or to kill any cub accompanied by another bear, regardless of its weight.
  • pursue a bear, after the chase has begun, with dogs not in use at the beginning of the hunt.
  • kill more than one bear per day or more than two bears per year.
  • organize for commercial purposes, or to professionally outfit a bear hunt, or to give or receive any consideration whatsoever or any donation in money, goods or services in connection with a bear hunt.
  • for nonresidents to hunt bear with dogs, except in certain designated counties during the bear gun season (see page 39).
  • use an electronic call.

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Penalties for Chapter 20 Bear Law Violations

These penalties are not subject to suspension by the court.

First Offense

$1,000 to $5,000 fine or 30 to 100 days in jail, or both. Also includes suspension of hunting and fishing licenses for two years.

Second Offense

$2,000 to $7,000 fine or 30 days to one year in jail, or both. Also includes suspension of hunting and fishing licenses for life.

Third Offense

FELONY - $5,000 to $10,000 fine or one to five years in prison, or both.

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Field Tagging, Checking and Transporting

Each person killing a bear must attach a completed field tag to the bear or remain with the bear and have upon their person a completed field tag before moving the carcass from where it was killed. A person who does not have a tag must make one. This tag must bear the hunter's name, address, hunting license number (if required) and the date, time and county of kill. Immediately upon arriving at a residence, camp, hunting lodge, vehicle or vessel,  the field tag shall be attached to the bear and must remain on the carcass until it is tagged with an official game checking tag.

A person killing a bear must, within 24 hours after the kill, transport the bear or its fresh skin to a Natural Resource Police officer or an official game checking station for retagging. A checking tag must be affixed to the bear before any part of it may be transported more than 75 miles from the point of kill, and shall remain on the skin until it is tanned or mounted.

No person may transport or possess wildlife killed by another hunter, unless the wildlife or parts thereof is accompanied by a paper tag filled out legibly bearing the signature, address,date of kill, hunting license number (if required) and the official game checking tag number (if required) of the hunter who killed the wildlife. The tag shall also specify the species and quantity of wildlife.

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Dog Training

The same licenses required for bear hunting are required for the training of dogs on bear.

Training for nonresidents is permitted during any open small game season.

  • It is unlawful for a person to permit a dog owned by him or under his control to chase, pursue or follow upon the track of any deer or wild turkey.
  • Residents may train dogs on bear on private land with the landowner's written permission, or on public lands, at any time. Prohibitions on Sunday hunting apply to dog training.
  • Persons training dogs may not have firearms or other implements for the taking of wildlife in their possession during closed seasons on wild animals and birds.
  • A person may not be guilty of hunting without permission just because their dog, without their direction or encouragement, travels onto another person's land where they do not have permission to hunt, providing no game is taken, livestock or domestic animals killed or damage done to that property. Dogs may not be retrieved without the landowner's permission.
  • No person other than the owner of a registered dog may remove a tag, collar or other identifying apparel, nor remove or turn off a radio transmitting collar without the permission of the owner, unless it is necessary to prevent or treat an injury to the dog or is done by a law-enforcement officer for law enforcement purposes.

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Bear Tooth Collection

The DNR is currently studying factors related to the productivity and mortality of black bears in West Virginia. As part of this research effort, radio collars, ear tags and lip tattoos have been placed on a number of bears. Anyone observing a bear wearing a radio collar or ear tag is asked to report the number of the tag (if obtainable) to the DNR. Hunters who harvest a bear with a radio collar and/or ear tag should return this equipment to the DNR.

Successful bear hunters can contribute to this research effort by either pulling or allowing a small tooth or
two to be pulled and submitted to the bear project. Hunters pulling a bear tooth should refer to the accompanying diagram.

Use a screwdriver to pry out the small teeth located just in back of the large canines as shown. This is
difficult to do without breaking the roots, so work slowly.

Bear Tooth Diagram

Each tooth pulled should be taped to an index card, placed in a small envelope and labeled with the hunter's name, county of kill, bear weight, sex and check tag number and dropped off at an official game checking station or mailed to the DNR at: Elkins Operationn Center, PO Box 67, Elkins, WV 26241. After processing the tooth, the DNR will provide you with the age of the animal. If you do not collect a tooth, please contact the appropriate District DNR office to make arrangements for a tooth to be collected prior to processing the bear or disposing of the skull.

A tagged bear may have been tranquilized. Please contact the District Wildlife Biologist prior to consumption of meat.

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Bear Reproductive Tract Collection

WV Wildlife Biologists are continuing to collect female bear reproductive tracts. Information from these tracts, as well as a premolar tooth from each bear, will reveal such data as breeding ages of females, number of cubs produced, age structure of the female population and reproductive success. Please help us obtain as much information as possible by following the outlined procedures. You may call any District DNR office or the Elkins Operations Center for assistance.

District 1: (304) 825-6787
District 2: (304) 822-3551
District 3: (304) 924-6211
District 4: (304) 256-6947
District 5: (304) 675-0871
District 6: (304) 420-4550

Elkins Operations Center: (304) 637-0245


  1. Open bear abdominal cavity.
  2. Move intestines aside.
  3. Locate bladder.
  4. Note uterus under bladder, over large intestine.
  5. Remove uterus and ovaries by cutting as outlined in the above diagram. Be certain to get both ovaries which are each about the size of an acorn. They may be buried in large amounts of fat.
  6. Put in plastic bag and place in cool location (in refrigerator if available), and notify DNR personnel.
  7. If scales are available, weigh the bear.

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