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February 28, 2005|by TAMELA BAKER

Edwards hunts for support

ANNAPOLIS - He's dead serious about his bear bill, and last week Del. George Edwards, R-Garrett, let the House Environmental Matters Committee know it.

During a hearing on his bill to introduce a black bear population into every county in Maryland, Edwards told committee members that there's a growing number of the animals in Garrett and Allegany counties - too many, in fact, and it was time to move a few of them east.

He even whipped out a map showing areas in the state - shaded red for the hearing - where there is suitable habitat for black bears.

"There's some nice red down around Frederick and Washington counties," he said. "And there's a nice big red patch down on the Eastern Shore. Might take care of some of your nutrient problems down there."


Edwards' bill is a response to efforts to prohibit black bear hunts. The Department of Natural Resources conducted a hunt last year to thin the black bear population in Western Maryland, drawing criticism from other parts of the state.

But "I'm the one who lives where they are," Edwards said. "Up until about four years ago, we never saw a bear."

Now, wandering black bears are causing problems for Garrett County residents, he said.

"Last June, one came into town and went to the bank and tried to break into the ATM. They had to go to the school and say 'don't go out because we don't know where the bear is.'"

He also cited the case of a woman who will be going to court for killing a bear outside her home. She was letting her dog out one morning, he said, and had an altercation with four of the animals right outside her door.

Edwards said the DNR's bear hunt was a "management tool."

"If you don't want to do hunts, trap 'em and move 'em," Edwards said. "The movement of wildlife is not new to this state," he added, noting that turkeys have been moved all around Maryland.

Edwards raised the ire of committee member Barbara Frush, D-Prince George's, the lead sponsor of a bill to prohibit any further hunts. She said DNR figures showed a limited number of black bears live in Maryland. And she suggested some of the bears killed in last year's hunt might have been "baited."

Never mind that with that remark Frush was doing a little baiting of her own.

Edwards found her attitude, well, unbearable.

"I just want every county to share in the wealth," Edwards said, insisting there were more black bears in Western Maryland than the DNR had estimated.

"We'd be happy to have Prince George's County have some," he said

Shank drives the point home

ANNAPOLIS - Here's a little advice from the Maryland House of Delegates to young drivers: Do as I say, not as I do.

While discussing initiatives to improve teen driving with a group of high school students last Wednesday, Washington County Delegation Chairman Christopher B. Shank had a little confession to make about his early driving habits.

"I'll be honest with you, I was an idiot," he said.

But he apparently wasn't the only one. House Majority Leader Kumar Barve happened to walk past during Shank's revelation, and made one of his own.

"I was definitely an idiot," he said.

Call it 'potluck'

ANNAPOLIS - Not that he's a particularly picky eater, but when Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington, discovered fish was on the menu at a dinner for Republican legislators hosted by Gov. Robert Ehrlich, he decided to bring his own meal.

"I don't do fish," McKee said. "I went to the Subway on Main Street and got a sandwich." While the rest of the party dined on grouper, McKee munched his turkey and Swiss with lettuce and extra tomato.

Turns out McKee wasn't alone in shunning his host's selections. Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, made a pre-emptive strike as well.

Seems the governor served tacos last year - not one of Shank's favorites - so, "anticipating a bad meal," Shank ate at another restaurant before heading for the Governor's Mansion.

Both could have saved themselves a little trouble, however. When Del. Donald Elliott, R-Frederick/Carroll, revealed he didn't like fish, the governor's chef offered him chicken instead.

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