Cumberland Times-News

July 28, 2012

Md. bear harvest quota, number of permits expand

Michael A. Sawyers
Cumberland Times-News

— In the event you somehow missed our July 21 story “Maryland’s bear numbers grow,” let me recap the basics for you.

There was a study showing that in 2011 there were 701 bears living in Garrett and Allegany counties. That number does not include cubs that were around that year.

The Maryland Wildlife & Heritage Service has determined that the bear population in Almost Maryland is growing 12 percent each year. Thus, there are more like 782 bears around here now, one year post study.

Before this study, the most recent looksee had taken place in 2005 and showed there were 362 bears in the two counties.

Because the bear population has grown vigorously, the agency has increased the number of bear hunting permits this year to 340. A year ago there were 260.

 If you want to apply, see http://blackbear.dnr.state.md.us and have your credit card ready.

There is a $15 nonrefundable application fee.

Also, the harvest quota has increased, being 80-110 this coming fall. During the 2011 bear hunt, the range was 55-80.

The full story is online at www.times-news.com. Search around. You’ll find it.

Some readers noticed in the original article that the cost of the study was $80,000. Those readers expressed their irritation that the state would spend that kind of money to count bears.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, this isn’t West Virginia we’re talking about. This isn’t the Mountain State where hunting is a revered way of life. This here is The Great State of Merlun and that’s the price of doing bear hunting business.

Paul Peditto said this past spring that the wildlife agency he directs will be sued 15 minutes after the Animal Righteous Folks (ARF) discover that the state no longer has scientific proof of the number of bears within its borders. ARF is my term, not Paul’s.

He’s right, of course.

The plaintiffs would claim that because no scientific study has been done to determine the number of bears then a hunting season should not be established. In fact, that’s what they claimed for years and some of them still do.

The method used to derive the current bear population estimate is state-of-the-art stuff. In the world of wildlife management, that is like saying it is as correct as it can be without being exact.

The short version is this. Bear hairs are collected and sent to a lab where the DNA is identified.

Then, by way of some formula that takes into account geographical area, number of cubs being born, etc., a population estimate is developed.

Other states use the same method. But then other states don’t have the same ARF contingency density as does Merlun.

Other things remain the same for the upcoming bear hunt (Oct. 22-27) as in recent years.

The hunting area will continue to be Allegany and Garrett counties.

Those who draw a permit may hunt anywhere in either county. Permit recipients may name someone to hunt with them, though only one bear may be killed by the pair.

A private landowner may also be named as a hunter by the permit holder, but only on his or her land, giving one permit up to three hunters.

Permit holders must phone in each night to see how many bears have been killed and whether or not the hunt continues the next day.

There will be one checking station in each county.

If you have never hunted bears in Maryland before and draw a permit this year you must attend Bear School for a few hours on a day immediately before the hunt.

Don’t get upset about this. Bear School is cool. I’ve been to it twice and learned a lot.

For example, you learn how to determine the size of the bear by the girth of its poo. Told you it was cool. And yes, they do it in the woods.

By the way, if you draw a permit, you will need a bear hunting app to be successful. I recommend the 30-06.

Contact Outdoor Editor Mike Sawyers at msawyers@times-news.com.