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Pair demonstrates against Maryland black bear hunt

June 18, 2004

Yes, that was a black bear you saw in Hagerstown's Public Square on Thursday.

A costumed version of one, demonstrating against a proposed bear hunt this fall in far Western Maryland.

Norm Phelps, of Funkstown, Western Maryland coordinator for the Fund for Animals, was accompanied by the "bear" Thursday as he handed out leaflets urging people to protest the hunt.

His group has offered to give the state $75,000 to reimburse farmers for crop damage by bears as long as they call off the hunt. The state has turned down the offer.

Phelps staged the demonstration to coincide with the city's farmers market.

"We wanted to take the bears' message to farmers," he said.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has proposed a hunt to control the bear population west of Cumberland.

Under a plan to be decided on Aug. 1, hunters could kill up to 30 of the state's estimated 500 black bears.

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The DNR has given the public until July 12 to comment on the plan.

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