Every State has an agency that is responsible for the conservation of all wildlife. One of the functions of these organizations is the management of hunting and trapping within the state.
Among the mammals, species are categorized as big game (black bear, deer, and wild boar), small game (squirrels and rabbits), or furbearers. Furbearers include beaver, bobcat, both red and gray fox, mink, muskrat, opossum, otter, raccoon, skunk, weasel, coyote and fisher (and nutria in coastal plain regions). Not all of these can be hunted in each state. For example, there is no open season on black bear or bobcat in Maryland at this time.
While hunting pressures and harvest rates have been increasing among the big game, there has been a significant decrease in hunting and harvests in most of the furbearer market (bobcat, beaver and coyote are notable exceptions). The drop in the furbearers is a reflection of market prices, however, and does not represent a drop in the population levels. Furbearer prices have steadily fallen since their peaks in the late 1970's and the harvest rates reflect this decrease. Without exception, the furbearer biologists recognize hunting, even at the all-time highs of the early 80's, has had little, or no, effect on populations within the region. As you look at the harvest figures listed below, realize that some furbearer biologists have suggested that it would not be unreasonable to presume that total populations within each state may be four times or more than the highest harvest figures reached in these peak years.
Each state has a website that provides hunting and trapping regulations for the state. I have included the website under each individual state listing, with some helpful information explaining what is available and how to access it.
Finally, I have communicated with the furbearer biologists from each of the five states to obtain furbearer harvest information. Of this five state Appalachian region, only Maryland does not keep publicly available statistics on furbearers. However, discussions with the furbearer biologist has allowed me to make some comments which are included in the Maryland report.
Figures based on fur buyer records are used for WV, and NC, with hunter surveys used to estimate total harvests for PA and six species in VA (see VA harvest). It is apparent that hunter surveys provide much higher statistics than fur buyer records, which do not account for hides sold out of state, a common practice in times of low furbearer prices, like now. It is believed these hunter surveys are more accurate reflections of actual harvest rates.
Below, is a summary of the annual harvest of game animals obtained from these sources for the 1999-2000 season. These figures are generally substantially below the harvests of the early 1980's and continue the present decline in furbearer hunting pressure resulting from low furbearer prices. Exceptions to this are beaver, bobcats, coyotes, deer, and bear.
1999 - 2000 HARVEST
|Species||Pennsylvania||Maryland||West Virginia||Virginia||North Carolina||TOTAL|
|Coyote||9,508||no record||43||3,304||no record||12,855|
|Fisher||no season||~12||27||no season||none in state||~39|
|Gray Fox||26,794||no record||933||14,107||34||41,868|
|Red Fox||36,860||no record||359||15,632||8||52,859|
|Otter||no season||~200||no season||633||318||1,151|
|Rabbit||718,274||111,000||no record||358,514||no record||1,187,788|
|Squirrel||1,236,108||179,152||no record||965,356||no record||2,380,616|