The 2013 Mast Survey and Hunting Outlook is available on the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources’ website and will be available soon at DNR offices across the state, according to Curtis I. Taylor, chief for the DNR 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 a significant impact on wildlife populations and harvests,” said Taylor. “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.”

Beechnut and hickory were above their long-term average and should supply many wildlife species with ample food sources. Production of acorns, however, is well below the 42-year average and will have noticeable effects on the 2013–2014 hunting seasons because oak makes up the majority of the hard mast biomass. Soft mast conditions of apple, crabapple and hawthorn were also well above 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 Taylor. “Areas that have any oak mast will concentrate animals early in the season but most of it should be consumed by mid-fall. Hunters will have to shift their localized hunting spots to take advantage of these mast conditions. Hunters can find a wealth of facts in the Mast Survey and Hunting Outlook. It should provide them valuable information before heading into the field.”

Copies of the 2013 Mast Survey and Hunting Outlook may be found on the DNR website at under “Hunting.”  Information analyzing mast conditions and wildlife harvests also is available on the website.

Logo courtesy West Virginia Division of Natural Resources

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