RICHMOND, Va. (WJHL) – The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) is asking for public review and comment on its bear management plan.

The DWR has asked for input on the draft 2023–2032 Virginia Black Bear Management Plan. The department will accept comments on the plan through Sept. 5.

The original bear plan was completed in 2001, and according to the DWR, it has twice been revised due to the involvement of the public.

“The revised Bear Plan will guide bear management across the Commonwealth through 2032,” the department stated in a release. “This plan describes the history of black bear management, current status of bears and bear management programs, and the future of bear management in Virginia. The plan provides a framework of what needs to be done and how it should be done.”

The bear plan features six goals to address bear populations, habitats, recreation, conflicts with humans and overall bear health and welfare.

The current draft includes notes that in order to increase bear populations in Southwest Virginia, bears were relocated to Smyth and Washington counties from other parts of the Commonwealth in the late 1980s. Those stockings helped reestablish the bear population of the region, the DWR reports.

You can read the drafted Virginia Bear Management Plan by clicking here.