VA Department of Wildlife Resources Black Bear Management Study Results

Stefanie Kitchen Taillon, Assistant Director- Governmental Relations

Virginia Farm Bureau producer members may recall completing a survey this spring related to black bear management. This was part of a study conducted for the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (previously known as the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries) to obtain input from Virginia residents, bear hunters, and agricultural producers regarding the management of black bears in the Commonwealth.

According to the final report, “the surveys covered a range of black bear management topics to assist the Department in the development of its 2021-2030 Black Bear Management Plan. Topics covered in the survey include participation in wildlife viewing or hunting involving bears, feelings about bears, encounters, and experiences with bears, and opinions on black bear population sizes and management priorities.”

Below are a few key statistics specifically from the agricultural producers’ survey:

  • One-third of agricultural producers had difficulties with black bears on their farms or agricultural lands. Regions 3A and 3B (which primarily consist of the Shenandoah Valley and Southwest areas of Virginia) experienced the most difficulties, each at a rate of 43%, whereas no other region has a rate higher than 27%.
  • 50% of agricultural producers are satisfied with the bear population in the county where they farm, but 26% are dissatisfied.
  • When asked to rate the Department’s management of bears, 48% give a rating of excellent or good, while 26% give a rating of fair or poor.
  • 39% of agricultural producers indicated they want the bear population in their farm county maintained at the current level, while 34% want the population decreased. 15% want it increased.
  • Among agricultural producers, a majority (58%) consider bears to be a concern in the county in which most of their farming takes place, but mostly at the minor level (40%) rather than the major level (18%).

Thank you to all who took the time to participate in the survey. For a full copy of the study, contact me at stefanie.kitchen@vafb.com.

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