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Natural Resources approves 2019 big-game regulations

May 14, 2019

ALUM CREEK — When West Virginia’s hunting-regulations pamphlet comes out this summer, some of the big-game regulations will be different.

Members of the state Natural Resources Commission recently voted on eight changes proposed by Division of Natural Resources officials. The commission approved all of the proposals unanimously:

• The first vote approved the 2019 bear-hunting season dates and bag limits as proposed by DNR biologists. The main change involved the addition of Barbour, Braxton, Calhoun, Clay, Gilmer, Harrison, Lewis, Lincoln, Monongalia, Roane, Taylor and Upshur counties to the Oct. 24-27 concurrent bear/antlerless-deer season. The other segments of the bear season remained essentially the same.

• The second vote approved the 2019 antlerless-deer hunting season dates and bag limits as proposed. Not much changed from last year. Bag limits became slightly more liberal in northern Wayne, Boone, northern Lincoln, Marion, Mason, Morgan and Jefferson counties; and bag limits became slightly more liberal in Doddridge, Ritchie, Tyler, Nicholas and southern Clay counties.

• The third vote approved a one-day extension to the state’s youth season for turkeys. DNR officials had sought to extend the season into Sunday to give young hunters a second chance in case of bad weather on Saturday.

• The fourth vote approved a similar one-day extension of the October youth season for antlerless deer, which was proposed for the same reason as the turkey-season extension.

• The fifth vote approved the imposition of older-aged deer management regulations on the new, 10,416-acre Little Kanawha River Wildlife Management Area in Wirt and Calhoun counties. Under the regulation, all bucks killed on the tract will be required to have antler spreads of at least 14 inches in order to be legal. DNR officials said they sought the regulation so hunters in the state’s northwestern counties would have an older-age management unit in DNR

District VI.

• The sixth vote approved the opening of public lands during the October concurrent antlerless deer/black bear season. Agency officials sought the change to make the public-land regulations more consistent.

• The seventh vote approved the use of sidelock pistols during the state’s Mountaineer Heritage primitive-weapons hunting season for deer and bear. The change leaves in place the existing caliber restrictions for muzzleloading pistols, and it specifically prohibits the use of telescopic sights or in-line percussion-cap pistols.

• The eighth vote approved all of the other big-game season dates and bag limits as proposed. Except for slight shifts in opening and closing dates caused by calendar variations, those remained the same as they were in 2018.

The DNR had also proposed several fishing-regulation changes that would be put into effect beginning in 2020.

Those include potential changes in creel limits for walleye, sauger, white, striped and hybrid striped bass in selected waters; a ban on using minnows and other fish for bait in streams that might contain the endangered candy darter; a statewide reduction in the daily creel limit for muskellunge; and the establishment of a minimum 30-inch size limit for tiger muskies.

Commission members will vote on those changes during their August meeting at Tygart Lake State Park.