Virginia Bear Hunting Regulations Overview

Reporting a Bear Harvest

  • Customer Account Requirement: Hunters must have an account on GoOutdoorsVA to report a bear.
  • Account Setup: Free and can be done at www.gooutdoorsvirginia.com. Assistance is available at 804-367-1000.

Bag Limits

  • Annual Limit: One bear per license year.
  • Weight Restrictions: Minimum of 100 pounds live weight or 75 pounds dressed weight.
  • Female Bears with Cubs: Not permitted to harvest. Cubs typically weigh 30-50 lbs in the fall.
  • Identification Caution: Patience is advised to avoid mistakenly shooting cubs.

Unlawful Practices

  • Feeding or Baiting Bears: Prohibited year-round statewide to keep bears wild, reduce conflicts, and slow mange spread.
  • Wastage of Game: Illegal to kill or cripple a bear without making a reasonable effort to retrieve and retain it.
  • Crippling or Dislodging for Hunting: Unlawful to harm or dislodge a bear from a tree for hunting continuation or dog training.

Bear Harvest Reporting and Tooth Submission

  • Reporting Method: Harvest must be reported via GoOutdoorsVirginia.com, the Go Outdoors Virginia mobile app, or by telephone.
  • Tooth Submission: Required as part of the reporting process. Details in Tag Validation & Checking Requirements.

Age Information of Harvested Bear

Use of Tracking Dogs

  • Legality: Allowed in bear hunting. Further details can be found under Hunting Information.

Archery Bear Season in Virginia: Regulations and Guidelines

Season Dates

  • Duration: October 7 to November 17, statewide.

Legal Methods and Restrictions for Archery

  • Archery Tackle: Only traditional archery equipment is permitted, excluding slingbows.
  • Disability Accommodations: Individuals with a disability preventing them from using standard archery equipment may use an arrowgun, provided they have a physician-completed authorization form from the Department.
  • Broadhead Requirements: Must be at least 7/8-inch wide or capable of expanding to this width upon impact.
  • Prohibited Equipment:
    • Explosive head arrows.
    • Arrows with drugs, chemicals, or toxic substances.

Use of Dogs

  • Tracking: Dogs are permissible for tracking wounded or dead bears.
  • Youth or Apprentice Bear Hunting: Dogs may be used by youth or apprentice bear hunters on the designated Young and Apprentice Bear Hunting Weekend.
  • General Hunting: It is illegal to use dogs for bear hunting during the archery season, with the above exceptions.

Firearm Possession During Archery Season

  • General Prohibition: Carrying firearms during the archery bear season is generally prohibited.
  • Muzzleloading Firearms: Exception granted where and when the muzzleloading bear season overlaps, and hunting with a rifle or muzzleloading firearm is allowed.
  • Concealed Handgun Permit Holders: Valid permit holders may carry a concealed handgun as specified in the Legal Use of Firearms & Archery Tackle section.

Muzzleloader Bear Season in Virginia: Regulations and Guidelines

Season Dates

  • Duration: November 11 through 17.
  • Location: Statewide in areas where hunting with a muzzleloading rifle is permitted.

Legal Methods and Restrictions

Muzzleloading Firearms

  • Rifles: Single shot muzzleloading rifles of .40 caliber or larger, firing a single projectile or sabot (with a .35 caliber or larger projectile). Projectile must be loaded from the muzzle.
  • Shotguns: Muzzleloading shotguns, no larger than 10 gauge, with projectiles loaded from the muzzle.
  • Pistols: Muzzleloading pistols of .45 caliber or larger, firing a single projectile or sabot (with a .35 caliber or larger projectile) per barrel. Propellant and projectile must be loaded from the muzzle.
  • Revolvers: Muzzleloading revolvers of .45 caliber or larger, firing a single projectile or sabot (with a .35 caliber or larger projectile) per cylinder, loaded from the forward end of the cylinder.

Additional Equipment Regulations

  • Ignition Types: Flintlock, percussion, or electronic ignitions are all permitted.
  • Powder Type: Smokeless powder is allowed only in firearms specifically designed for it. Using smokeless powder in other muzzleloaders is prohibited.
  • Scopes: Permissible during this season.
  • Pneumatic Arrowguns: Allowed.

Restrictions on Other Firearms

  • Muzzleloader-Only: It is illegal to have any firearm other than a muzzleloader in immediate possession while hunting, with an exception for valid concealed handgun permit holders (refer to Legal Use of Firearms & Archery Tackle).

Use of Dogs

  • Tracking Wounded or Dead Bears: Allowed for tracking purposes.
  • General Hunting: Using dogs for bear hunting is prohibited during the muzzleloader season, except for tracking as mentioned.

Virginia Bear Hunting Laws & Regulations\

Youth and Apprentice Bear Hunting Weekend in Virginia

Dates and Overview

  • When: October 14 and 15.
  • Scope: Statewide event for youth and apprentice hunters.

Eligibility and Supervision

  • Youth Hunters: Resident and nonresident hunters aged 15 and under, or holders of a valid apprentice hunting license.
  • Adult Supervision: Must be accompanied and directly supervised by an adult over 18 with a valid Virginia hunting license or exemption from licensing. Nonresident youth must have appropriate licenses unless exempt.
  • Supervisor Role: The supervising adult cannot carry or discharge a firearm, must maintain close contact, and provide direction to the youth or apprentice hunter.

Hunting Weapons and Regulations

  • Permitted Weapons: Firearms legal during the regular firearms season are allowed.
  • Bag and Weight Limits: Standard bear bag limit, weight limits, and all other take restrictions apply.
  • One Bear Rule: If a bear is taken this weekend, the youth or apprentice hunter cannot take another bear in any season.
  • Blaze Color: Required in areas with an open deer firearms season. Strongly recommended in other areas.

Use of Dogs

  • Restrictions: Dogs cannot be used on Sunday statewide. Specific counties and Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) have further restrictions on using dogs on Saturday.
  • Tracking Dogs: Allowed to find wounded or dead bears, provided they are maintained and controlled on a lead.

Hunting in Specific Areas

  • Counties and WMAs with Restrictions: Includes Accomack, Campbell, Fairfax, Grayson, Henry, Loudoun, Northampton, Patrick, Pittsylvania, Roanoke, Smyth, Washington, the city of Lynchburg, and certain WMAs.

Importance of the Event

  • Promoting Hunting Tradition: This weekend aims to introduce young and apprentice hunters to bear hunting in a controlled and ethical environment.
  • Education and Experience: Offers a valuable opportunity for youth to learn hunting skills, safety, and wildlife conservation under experienced supervision.
  • Conservation Awareness: Encourages understanding and participation in wildlife management and conservation practices.

Managing Black Bears with Mange: Guidelines and Precautions

Understanding and Identifying Mange in Black Bears

Mange, caused by the mite S. scabiei, is a contagious skin disease affecting mammals, including black bears. Its symptoms can be confused with normal shedding or other conditions. Hunters are advised to be vigilant in identifying mange-infested bears.

Key Identification Tips:

  • Reference the DWR mange brochure for visual aids and additional characteristics.
  • Look for signs like hair loss and crusting skin.
  • Mild to moderate cases can resolve naturally; avoid harvesting if unsure.

Reporting Suspected Cases:

  • Record the location (GPS coordinates, if possible).
  • Take detailed photos showing symptoms.
  • Report to Virginia Wildlife Conflict Helpline: vawildlifeconflict@usda.gov or 1-855-571-9003.

Regulations During Bear Training Seasons

  • Bears with mange cannot be killed during bear training seasons.
  • Report any suspected mange-infested bears with photos and location details to the Helpline.

Protocol for Harvesting Mange-Infested Bears

  • Legally harvested bears with mange must be tagged and reported, even if not removed from the site.
  • Email bearmange@dwr.virginia.gov with harvest details and photos for evaluation.
  • Replacement tags may be issued if mange is confirmed.

Safety Measures:

  • Minimize contact with the carcass.
  • Utilize disposable gloves and Permethrin-based repellents.
  • Properly dispose of gloves and contaminated materials.
  • Wash hands and arms thoroughly; launder or freeze clothing to kill mites.

Best Practices for Handling and Equipment Disinfection

  • Contact a veterinarian for advice on hounds potentially exposed to mange.
  • Disinfect equipment (e.g., dog leashes, boxes) with a bleach solution or suitable disinfectant.
  • Seek medical advice for potential human exposure to mange.

Additional Resources and Information

Virginia Bear Hunting Laws & Regulations
Virginia Bear Hunting Laws & Regulations

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Disclaimer:

The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.