Michael A. Sawyers
CUMBERLAND — When Harry Spiker found out this past fall that there was a bear under the porch at a home on Beckman’s Peninsula at Deep Creek Lake, he wasn’t surprised.
“It’s the same bear that was under a porch with cubs two years ago,” said Spiker, a biologist with the Maryland Wildlife & Heritage Service.
In 2011, the 327-pound sow spent the winter and gave birth to cubs under the porch of a home in the Stilwater subdivision, another Deep Creek Lake community about 2 miles away made up mostly of upscale vacation homes.
This year, the bear weighed 353 pounds and was recently drugged and moved, along with four new cubs, to her own second home, that being the nearby Savage River State Forest.
“The homeowner was at his place last November and heard something under the porch,” Spiker said. “We checked, discovered it was a radio-collared bear, and he agreed to let her stay there.”
Spiker applauded the decision.
“That meant we didn’t have to drug her twice, once to move her away and again this spring to check her and her cubs.”
Spiker and his crew are halfway through the bear-den checking season.
“We’ve worked four bears already and have five to go,” he said Thursday.
Besides the porch bear, bruins have been checked in Garrett, Washington and Frederick counties.
A 300-pound sow was checked near the south end of Deep Creek Lake, but had no cubs.
The Frederick County bear, near Myersville, was 225 pounds, 6 years old and had three cubs. “This is her third litter of three cubs each,” Spiker said.
Spiker said when that bear was first trapped six years ago it had a hunting broadhead in its shoulder. “That is totally healed now,” he said.
In Washington County, a bear was worked Wednesday on Sideling Hill. That sow also had three cubs. The 9-year-old female weighed 230 pounds.
The sows and the cubs are in excellent shape, according to Spiker.
“There were plenty of acorns to eat last fall so the sows went into the dens in great physical condition,” he said.
Dens this year range from under large rocks to beside large rocks to up against logs in the open woods, according to the biologist.
Three of the five bears remaining on the checklist are in Allegany County — one on the Green Ridge State Forest, one near Rocky Gap State Park and one high on Dan’s Mountain.
The other two are in Garrett County.
“We try to maintain collars on 20 bears at any one time,” Spiker said.
Currently, 16 female bears are collared, but others will be captured and fitted with the tracking devices this summer.
Spiker said there are some bears already out of dens.
“The usual progression is that male bears come out first, then the sows with year-old cubs and then the sows with new cubs,” Spiker said.
He expects the last of the emerging bears to be out and about by the first week of April.
Contact Michael A. Sawyers at firstname.lastname@example.org.