Outdoors - Maryland black bear hunt a success

October 28, 2007|By BILL ANDERSON

The results are in for the 2007 black bear season in Maryland. The bear season opened Monday and closed Thursday at 9 p.m.

Before the season, the DNR hoped for a harvest of 50 to 70 bears. After four days of hunting - much of it in bad weather - the kill count reached 51 and the season was closed.

The four days matches the longest duration of any hunt to date. The first season in 2004 lasted just one day, the 2005 season closed after four days and the 2006 season ended after two days. The 2005 season was also impacted by bad weather in Western Maryland.

The DNR reports that of the 51 bears, 43 came from Garrett County and eight from Allegany County. The largest bear taken this season was a 615-pound brute - the average weight of bears taken was 174 pounds.


The good news is this year's harvest will only serve to slow the rate of growth in the overall bear population in Western Maryland. There are usually around 50 bears killed on the highways and by poaching each year, so the total mortality for the year will be around 100 bears out of an estimated population of more than 500.

When you consider that the breeding females in the population usually have more than one cub, it's clear that the conservative hunting season will in no way endanger the viability of the bear population in Maryland.

Some additional numbers from the Maryland DNR on the 2007 bear season:

· 74 percent of bears were taken on private land.

· 59 percent of successful hunters live in the hunt area.

· 452 hunters participated in the hunt and 2,804 hunters applied for a permit.

For comparison, the 2004 the harvest was 20 bears, 2005 was 40 bears and 2006 was 41.

Maryland may never be a major bear-hunting state when compared to Pennsylvania or West Virginia. But another successful season demonstrates that Maryland has a healthy, expanding population of bears, and that hunting can continue to be an important part of the overall management plan.

Bill Anderson writes a weekly outdoors column for The Herald-Mail.

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