Michael A. Sawyers
CUMBERLAND — Although the application period for Maryland’s bear hunting permits begins July 1, hunters will have to wait until mid-July or so to find out how many will be available.
Neither has the Maryland Wildlife & Heritage Service yet established the harvest range for the hunt in late October.
“The specifics of the harvest quota and number of permits are still on hold,” said Wildlife Biologist Harry Spiker.
Spiker awaits the results of the first bear population estimate since 2005.
“I spoke to the lab (Thursday) and we’re getting much closer. They’re finalizing their reports now and then we’ll move it forward to West Virginia University for analysis and review.”
The bear estimate from seven years ago was 600 for the state.
The wildlife agency wants the new estimate so the harvest range and number of permits can be adjusted accordingly.
The online (http://blackbear.dnr.state.md.us) application period continues through Aug. 31. Telephone applications will be taken Aug. 20-24 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at 1-888-579-6768.
In 2011, the harvest range was 55 to 80 bears. The hunt was stopped after four days when 65 bears had been killed. The 260 permits were applied for by 3,915 hunters.
The nonrefundable application fee remains at $15.
This year’s lottery drawing for permits will take place Sept. 4.
In 2011, a record number of bears, 75, died on Maryland highways, according an unofficial count maintained by the Times-News.
Thus far in 2012, the 18 bears killed on roads is ahead of the 2011 pace.
“Hopefully the road-kills will slow down as more food becomes available and juvenile dispersal winds down,” Spiker said.