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In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, natural resources officials in West Virginia have made changes that affect fishing, hunting, camping and use of state parks.

Following is a summary of changes made so far, as described by Division of Natural Resources officials on the agency’s website,

Resident fishing license waiver

The requirement for West Virginia residents to possess a fishing license has been waived through April 24 to help anglers who have been affected by economic disruption caused by COVID-19. The waiver:

  • Applies only to state-regulated waters
  • Includes waiver for trout and conservation stamps

Nonresidents must abide by existing license and stamp requirements. All fishing regulations remain in effect, and all requirements for hunting licenses remain in effect, as well. DNR Law Enforcement officers will continue to patrol state waterways, so anglers taking advantage of this waiver should be prepared to provide proof of West Virginia residency while fishing at public lakes or streams.

Trout stocking changes

To reduce the number of anglers gathering at public lakes, the West Virginia Gold Rush has been postponed and locations for daily trout stockings will no longer be announced.

  • The trout stocking hotline and online stocking reports are not being updated
  • Gold Rush stockings scheduled to start March 27 have been tentatively moved to early May
  • Regular trout stockings will continue in frequency, as set forth in the 2020 Fishing Regulations

To make sure crowds don’t interfere with trout stocking personnel and that anglers maintain a safe distance from hatchery staff, a DNR Law Enforcement officer will join each stocking run.

Spring turkey hunting season

The spring gobbler season is still scheduled to start April 20. The youth season will begin April 18-19. All hunting license requirements and regulations remain in effect.

WMA, state park, facility closures

To help protect the public and staff, facility closures and service changes have been made at state-managed recreational areas:

  • At wildlife management areas (WMAs), all campgrounds are closed. Shooting ranges remain open, but with some restrictions
  • At state parks and state forests, all lodges, cabins and campgrounds are closed, and new camping reservations have been suspended through April 30. Restrooms are closed.

Lodge services have been suspended. Park restaurants have been closed, and curbside and carryout services are not available. Nature centers and museums are closed.

Special events have been canceled through April 30 or postponed to later dates. The walkway to the falls at Blackwater Falls State Park and the overlook at Coopers Rock State Forest have been temporarily closed. Shooting ranges remain open, but with some restrictions.

Hunter education classes

All hunter education courses have been canceled until further notice. Online courses are available for a fee. To view a list of affiliates offering online courses, visit

DNR district offices

DNR district and administrative offices around the state are closed to the public but remain operational with reduced staffing. Offices are maintaining personnel from each DNR section to ensure there are no disruptions in service. All other employees have been instructed to work from home. If you have questions, please call your district office.

Reach John McCoy at, 304-348-1231, or follow @GazMailOutdoors on Twitter.