The 2012 “Mast Survey and Hunting Outlook” is available on the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources’ website and at DNR offices across the state, according to Chris Ryan, supervisor of Game Management Services for the DNR Wildlife Resources Section. Since 1970, 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 a significant impact on wildlife populations and harvests,” said Ryan. “Our biologists have used the mast survey data to demonstrate the strong correlation between mast conditions and deer, bear and turkey harvests. In addition to the impact on harvests, the amount of food available each year can affect the reproductive success of numerous species which will affect population sizes in the following years.”
Production of acorns is well above the 42-year average and will have noticeable effects on the 2012–2013 hunting seasons. However, beechnuts and walnuts were below their 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 Ryan. “One of the primary traits in this year’s mast crop is the spotty or inconsistent areas that had abundant or scarce production. 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 2012 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.
Image courtesy West Virginia Division of Natural Resources