Cumberland Times-News

Michael A Sawyers - Outdoors

November 17, 2012

More bear permits, please

Earlier this year, before the Maryland bear season and before dead bears started piling up on the state’s highways, the Wildlife & Heritage Service told us that there were 800-plus bears in Garrett and Allegany counties.

Since then, hunters have killed 92 bears during a five-day season. Since then, the Times-News has tallied 47 bruins that were whacked and stacked by Detroit bullets on roads — Interstate 68 being the single greatest contributor.

I believe the agency when its biologists tell us that the best available science was used to estimate the bear population in Almost Maryland.

I have to believe, as well, that the best available science isn’t all it should be. I mean, after all, the best available science is used to treat human conditions such as multiple sclerosis, but has a long way to go.

I’m thinking that the best available science, when it comes to counting bears, is in some sort of rudimentary phase. Of course all we can ask any person or any agency to do is their best.

Here is a down-and-dirty description of the best bear-counting science: bear hairs are collected and the DNA is identified and from that a population estimate is extrapolated.

Why am I so skeptical of the bear population estimate of 800-plus?

Let’s say we confirm that by the end of the year 48 bears die from vehicle strikes. Add that 48 to the 92 legally killed bears during the hunt and you have 140 dead bears out of, lets say, 825.

That means 17 percent of the bear population has expired.

That is, by the way, a real healthy and sustainable level of mortality for a bear population, especially one that is growing at 12 percent per year.

But here is the catch. I figure that if hunters using 340 permits, and not using the help of bait or dogs, can kill 92 bears in five days in only two counties that there is a scat-load of bears out there.

Is that scientific? No. I mean I don’t have any bear hair or DNA or extrapolaters, but I have a certain level of common sense in spite of what my mother said about it a bunch of decades ago.

Here is the other thing. The bear population that lives on public land is not being hunted very much. For one thing, it is most difficult to remove by hand a dead bear from the forest.

Only 10 bears were killed in Allegany County this season.

Within the square three-quarters of a mile on Dan’s Mountain where I spend a lot of time, I have seen or photographed via trail camera 12 different bears. There are pert near 10,000 acres on the Dan’s Mountain Wildlife Management Area that the bears act like they own.

I’m pleased that the WHS has expanded the number of permits and increased the number of bears that may be harvested. A further liberalization of those numbers would be appropriate for next season. Perhaps a certain block of permits should be designated to be used only in a certain county or in a portion of a certain county or on a specified public land.

Text Only
Michael A Sawyers - Outdoors
  • No Bambi for you, Mrs. Doe

    Some people want so badly for deer birth control to work that they actually think it will, even on wild populations.
    I wish I had a couple bridges to sell.
    A week ago on the Outdoors page we ran the deer there do what deer  everywhere do. They eat the easiest food available such as gardens and ornamental plantings. They walk in front of moving cars. They give ticks and  parasites a place to live.

    April 19, 2014

  • Black bear biologist explains new hunt

    The Maryland Wildlife & Heritage Service has abandoned the bear harvest quota system in use for 10 hunting seasons and has set the next two hunts at four days apiece.

    April 5, 2014

  • MIKE SAWYERS South Branch of Potomac River best place in W.Va. for trophy rainbows

    I always enjoy the annual roundup supplied by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources that reveals where all the trophy fish were caught.

    March 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • MIKE SAWYERS Mettiki will once again produce trout

    Brian Richardson is confident that the Maryland Fisheries Service will, little by little and year by year, get to the point where full production is restored to the state’s trout hatchery system, meaning that fish will no longer have to be purchased from private sources.

    March 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • The answer my friend ...

    Recently, the Times-News published
    a photograph of sea gulls that had
    landed on the parking lot at Braddock
    Square Shopping
    Center in LaVale
    My first thought
    was, “If those sea
    gulls landed in the
    Gunpowder River or
    Big Hunting Creek
    on their way here
    from the ocean I
    hope they didn’t have
    felt soles on their
    feet, otherwise they
    will spread rock snot
    to our trout streams
    in Allegany and Garrett counties.”

    March 15, 2014

  • Gobbler stuff can get crazy

    Tough, old bird
    The third gobbler I killed was in 1990 while hunting on Pond Hill near McCoole. Relatively early in the morning I sent out a couple yelp calls. Immediately, 75-100 yards away, what sounded like three gobblers got into a fight.

    March 8, 2014

  • MIKE SAWYERS Almost Maryland welcomes you back

    If you are a hunter in Almost Maryland, circle Thursday on your calendar so you don’t forget to attend the 7 p.m. hearing at Mountain Ridge High School in Frostburg that deals with proposed hunting regulations for the next two years.

    March 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • MIKE SAWYERS Gobbler radar activated

    With only 54 days until it opens, the Maryland spring gobbler season is officially on the radar.

    February 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • MIKE SAWYERS Region A buck, doe changes possible

    The Maryland Wildlife & Heritage Service, the Allegany-Garrett Sportsmen’s Association, the Quality Deer Management Association and the Washington County Federation of Sportsmen have hashed out a new deer hunting concept for Region A, which includes Garrett, Allegany and the western portion of Washington counties.

    February 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • MIKE SAWYERS Meshach Browning would say ‘Just do it’

    I wonder if it is possible to attach a
    GPS unit to legislation that has been
    introduced at the Maryland General
    Assembly.

    February 1, 2014 1 Photo

Latest news
Facebook
Must Read
House Ads