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CUMBERLAND — Good weather contributed to the 2019 Maryland bear hunt's success, said Harry Spiker, game mammal section leader for the Department of Natural Resources Wildlife & Heritage Service.

The five-day hunt, in its 16th year, ended Friday with 145 bears taken, he said.

Like most years, most bears came from Garrett County, where 95 of the animals were harvested this season. 

Allegany County saw 31 bears taken, followed by 11 in Washington and eight in Frederick counties. 

The largest bear weighed 539 pounds and was taken in Garrett County. 

“The hunt went great,” Spiker said. “Weather was great (and) I’m sure that played a role in the success.”

DNR received 5,204 applications from across the state and issued 800 permits for this year’s hunt in Allegany, Frederick, Garrett and Washington counties.

Last year, 135 hunters harvested a bear.  In 2017, 131 bears were harvested in the state's annual hunt.

The record number of bears harvested in Maryland stands at 167 in 2016. That year, the hunt was expanded from Garrett and Allegany to include Washington and Frederick counties. 

Spiker said he's pleased to see continued hunter participation in the two newer counties.

The state’s first bear hunt in 51 years was held in 2004.

Over the years, hundreds of black bears have been killed by vehicles on Maryland roads, while others died or had to be euthanized due to severe mange.

Bears in the past have also caused substantial damage to Maryland farm fields and livestock.

Although evidence of a breeding population is confined to the state’s four western counties, DNR each year receives several bear sightings and complaints in central and southern Maryland counties.

The goal of the annual hunt is to slow the growth of Maryland’s black bear population.

Teresa McMinn is the digital editor at Cumberland Times-News. Email her at tmcminn@times-news.com, call/text her at 304-639-2371 and follow her on Twitter.

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