Al Bourgeois 8/4/17

This photograph, taken in the mid-1980s in Garrett County, shows Al Bourgeois, biologist with the Maryland Wildlife & Heritage Service, with black bear fetuses recovered from a sow that was illegally shot and killed in her den near the Allegany County line. This was the first evidence in decades that bears were living and reproducing once again in Maryland. The bruin population has expanded dramatically since then. 

CUMBERLAND — The application period for folks seeking a permit to hunt bears in Maryland in October has begun and continues through Aug. 31.

There will be 750 permits, the same number available a year ago. The hunting area continues to be the state’s four western counties of Garrett, Allegany, Washington and Frederick.

A $15 nonrefundable fee is required with the online application. A hunter uses his or her individual Department of Natural Resources identification number to apply. In 2016, 5,537 hunters applied.

The 2016 season blew the bear harvest record out of the water. There were 167 bruins checked in, far above the previous record, set in 2015, of 95. That increase is likely tied to the increase in the number of permits and the expansion of the hunting area.

Bear-rich Garrett gave up 126 bears. Another 30 came from Allegany and that was 50 percent greater than the previous best year of 20. Eight bears were killed in Washington and three in Frederick.

The upcoming season will take place Oct. 23-26.

This will be the state’s 14th bear hunt since the season was reborn in 2004 after a moratorium of more than 50 years.

••• #mdbears2017 •••

Mike Sawyers is a staff writer and the outdoor editor at Cumberland Times-News. Call/text him at 304-639-4277, email msawyers@times-news.com and follow him on Twitter.

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