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Bear Hunting In Virginia

Hunting Methods - Hounding

The black bear population in Virginia was nearly extirpated by the early 1900s due to colonization, land clearing, and irregular hunting by settlers. It wasn't until the late 1930s, with the establishment of the Shenandoah National Park and hunting regulations, that the population began to rebuild. 

When Did Bear Hunting Start In Virginia?

Between 1930-1931 bears were given a specific hunting season.

Is The State Broken Down Into BMUs (Bear management units)?

The State is broken down into 42 Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), most of which are open to Bear Hunting.

When Is Bear Hunting Season?

Check this link for hunting dates as they are subject to change.


What Weapons Are Permitted?

Archery: Archery Tackle; Broadhead at least 7/8-inch in width.

Firearms: Shotguns no larger than 10 gauge; Centerfire Rifles .23 caliber or larger; Pistols and Revolvers .23 caliber or larger; Arrowguns.

Muzzleloaders: Muzzleloading Rifles and Shotguns; Muzzleloading Pistols .45 caliber or larger; 

Can Hunters Kill Cubs?

No. Killing cubs or mothers with cubs is illegal.

Can Hunters Kill A Bear Over Bait?

No. The use of bait is illegal.

Is Dog Hunting Permitted In Virginia?

Yes. Hunting with dogs is permitted.

What Procedure Must Hunters Follow After They Kill A Bear?

All hunters must fill out the Black Bear Check Card after harvesting a bear. Collecting a tooth is mandatory to complete the check card. All bears are to be checked at an official bear check station. Locations for bear check stations are available here- or by calling (804) 367-1000. 

What Is Their Reasoning For Hunting Bears?

  • Regulating bear population

  • Controlling nuisance problems

  • Recreational opportunity for sportsmen and women

What Is The Government Organization(s), That Is In Charge Of Bear Hunting/Wildlife?

  • Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF)

  • The Wildlife Center of Virginia

  • Virginia Wildlife Services

When Does The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries  Hold Their Meetings?

The dates, times and locations for the VDGIF meetings can be found here -

Are The Meetings Open To The Public?

All meetings are open to the public. Dates, times and locations can be found here-

Who Has The Power To Stop The Hunt?

The Governor and Virginia’s elected General Assembly Members have the power to introduce and vote on proposed law changes.

Douglas Dear, Chairman of the VDGIF

Groups And Organizations That Oppose Bear Hunting.

Friends of Animals -

Hunt Clubs And Organizations That Participate In And Fund Bear Hunting.

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries -

Virginia Bear Hunters Association -

Virginia Sports Club - 

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