Outdoor Roundup: Natural Resources Commission postpones annual buck limit vote once more, will revisit in August

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia Natural Resources Commission amended its May 31 meeting agenda and once again moved back the discussion on proposed changes to the annual antlered buck limit. The NRC will accept comments from the public on the proposal through July 24 and will revisit the topic at its Aug. 4 meeting. 

After moving the discussion to the May 31 meeting in August 2019, the NRC decided to give the public more time to respond to the proposed change. The change would lower the annual bag limit from three to two, which sparked debate at the August meeting. Financial concerns were also a factor for moving the proposal to May, citing two previous bag limit changes that saw declines in license sales the following years. 

“We’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from hunters over the last week and want to give folks more time to respond,” said Division of Natural Resources Director Stephen McDaniel.

The WVDNR has released guidelines for those who wish to submit comments, which can be sent by email or mail. The guidelines can be found at

West Virginia Division of Natural Resources launches program to track firefly sightings

To understand declining firefly populations, the Division of Natural resources is asking the public to report any sightings of the beetles. 

According to a WVDNR blog post, West Virginia’s 40 species of fireflies have declined in number due to habitat loss, pesticide use and other environmental causes like light pollution. Fireflies become more active in warmer months. 

“After spending a lot of time inside these past few months, this is a great opportunity for you to take your family out to catch fireflies in a glass jar or watch these incredible insects light up the neighborhood at night,” the agency’s blog post reads. “Many people have fond memories of chasing lightning bugs when they were a kid and we want to make sure these insects thrive so future generations can enjoy this magical experience.”

Because a firefly’s bioluminescence is a means of reproduction, they are susceptible to light pollution and artificial lights. The DNR’s biologists look to use data collected by citizens to understand why the fireflies are declining, so they’ve released guidelines, a printable reporting form and information about firefly events, workshops and volunteer opportunities at The public can also report sightings through Survey123, available on the Apple App Store and Google Play. 

Participants are also encouraged to share photos on social media with the hashtag #LightUpWV. For more information about the project or to be added to a survey mailing list, contact Mack Frantz at or 304-637-0245.

West Virginia spring gobbler numbers released

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources released the preliminary spring gobbler harvest numbers on May 28, showing a slight increase from the 2019 season. 

Hunters harvested 11,314 turkeys during the spring season, 99 more birds from the previous season (11,215). Further, the 2020 harvest is close to the 5-year average of 11,344 and 9% above the 10-year average. 

“We had a good harvest this year thanks to a great youth turkey season,” said Mike Peters, wild turkey biologist for the Division of Natural Resources. “The youth turkey season expanded to two days this year and it appears our young hunters took advantage of the additional opportunity.”

Youth hunters harvested 643 birds over the two-day season, representing a 37% increase from last year’s youth season. 

Though harvesting fewer birds than last year, District 1 harvested the most at 2,749. Districts 4 and 5 reported an increase from last year’s totals, while Districts 2, 3 and 6 reported fewer birds. The top five counties were Mason (457), Preston (434), Jackson (402), Wood (344) and Harrison (339). Monongalia County recorded 270 birds, seven more than last year. 

Bowden Hatchery Fishing Derby canceled

ELKINS – The Division of Natural Resources announced the cancellation of the Bowden Hatchery Fishing Derby Thursday due to concerns over COVID-19. The event was originally scheduled for June 13 in Elkins. 

“The derby attracts a large crowd each year, and we didn’t feel that safe social distancing could be maintained for the public and for DNR staff,” said Jim Hedrick, DNR hatchery program manager. “We regret to cancel the 29th consecutive year for the derby, but we hope to be back next year so we can continue to provide a great opportunity for children to experience a family fishing experience.”

The Bowden hatchery is also under construction for expansion and improvements, according to the DNR, and will be closed to visitors through the end of 2020. Hendrick notes that “the upgrades to the Bowden Fish Hatchery will help better serve the needs of anglers for many years to come. These construction efforts are currently limiting the safe space available for fishing derby activities.”