Food availability influences population demographics and harvest of wildlife species throughout the Appalachians. Various combinations of hard- and soft-mast indices were compared to white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), and black bear (Ursus americanus) statewide harvests in West Virginia, USA, 1980–2002. Hard-mast conditions had a negative relationship with total white-tailed deer (r = −0.5774, P = 0.004), archery white-tailed deer (r = −0.5979, P = 0.003), antlerless whitetailed deer (r = −0.5065, P = 0.014), wild turkey (r = −0.6193, P = 0.002), and black bear archery (r = −0.6065, P = 0.002) harvests. Hard-mast conditions had a positive relationship with black bear gun harvests (r = 0.6975, P ≤ 0.001). Negative nonsignificant (P > 0.05) relationships were measured between mast conditions and buck white-tailed deer and muzzleloader white-tailed deer harvests. Hard mast black cherry (Prunus serotina) had the strongest negative relationship with wild turkey (r = −0.6497, P ≤ 0.001) harvest, whereas oak (Quercus spp.) had the greatest negative relationship with total white-tailed deer (r = −0.6238, P = 0.002), archery white-tailed deer (r = −0.6133, P = 0.002), and antlerless whitetailed deer (r = −0.5648, P = 0.005) harvests. Total hard mast had the greatest positive relationship with black bear gun (r = 0.6975, P ≤ 0.001) and greatest negative relationship with black bear archery (r = −0.6065, P = 0.002) harvests. Soft-mast conditions did not relate to harvest of any big-game species (P > 0.05). Our results supply wildlife biologists with data that may be used in setting seasons or predicting harvests for the public.
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