West Virginia Mast Survey and Hunting OutlookSOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The 2015 "Mast Survey and Hunting Outlook" is available on the Division of Natural Resources' website and at DNR offices across the state, according to Paul Johansen, Chief of the Division of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Section. Since 1971, the Wildlife Resources Section, in cooperation with volunteers from numerous other agencies, has conducted a fall mast survey to determine the abundance of mast produced by 18 species of trees and shrubs.
"The availability of fall foods has significant impacts on wildlife populations and harvests," said Johansen. "Our biologists have used the mast survey data to demonstrate a strong correlation between mast conditions and deer, bear and turkey harvests. In addition to the impacts on harvests, the amount of food available each year can affect the reproductive success of numerous species which will affect population sizes in following years."
Production of acorns is significantly less than in 2014 and will have noticeable effects on the 2015–2016 hunting seasons. However, hickory, walnut, and beech produced mast well above the 44-year average. Considering all 18 species of trees and shrubs surveyed, food conditions are slightly above the long-term average.
"It is very important for hunters to scout and consider the type and amount of food available in the areas that they hunt," added Johansen. Hunters can find a wealth of facts in the 'Mast Survey and Hunting Outlook' and it should provide them valuable information before heading into the field."
Copies of the 2015 Mast Survey and Hunting Outlook may be found on the DNR website at www.wvdnr.gov under "Hunting." Information analyzing mast conditions and wildlife harvests also is available on the website.