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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

94 black Bears were killed by Maryland hunters as the season just closed............Once statewide, today the recovering population exists in the 4 western counties bordering Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia where there is good interchange between the populations................The mid 1700's saw bounties established to encourage killing the Bruins and land clearing finished off the Bears by mid 20th century........1972 saw Officials grant the Black Bear ENDANGERED STATUS..............The regrowth of forests enabled the Bears to scramble back into some form of breeding population and by 1980, their ENDANGERED status was modified to 'NON GAME; SPECIAL CONCERN....................In 1985, status changed to FOREST GAME SPECIES BUT hunting of the bears did not again take place until 2003 when an estimated 227 Bears were estimated to live in the Western mountains............Biologists now feel that 700 Bears now call Maryland home with State Biologists allowing about 13-14% to be killed this season......As in every State, quota numbers always seem to revolve around "hunter pleasure" and "ease of getting your own bear" rather than ecosystem carrying capacity and top down ecosystems services that the Bears provide Maryland's woodlands

Bear Hunters' Guide to Hunting Black Bears in Maryland 2013

Maryland Black Bear History and Management

The black bear (Ursus americanus) is the largest terrestrial mammal native to Maryland. Currently, Maryland has a resident, breeding black bear population in the 4 westernmost counties (Garrett, Allegany, Washington, and Frederick), with the highest bear density in western Allegany County followed closely by Garrett County. Maryland shares this thriving regional population with its surrounding states of Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.

The black bear is a species native to Maryland that was once distributed statewide. Bears were historically abundant because of the excellent habitats provided by Maryland's native woodlands, meadows, swamps, and coastal plain. The black bear population suffered, though, as European settlers colonized Maryland.

The quality of Maryland's forests was degraded as early settlers cleared the forests to harvest timber and expand agricultural land during the 1600s and 1700s. As a result, the quality of bear habitat was also greatly degraded. In addition, settlers considered bears to be a threat to their own existence and treated them as vermin. In fact, in the mid 1700s, a bounty was established in Somerset and Worcester counties encouraging people to kill bears. Bears were indiscriminately killed throughout the 1800s and into the early 1900s. This indiscriminate killing, combined with large-scale habitat loss through uncontrolled timber cutting and a lack of conservation laws, eliminated black bears and other forest wildlife species from many parts of the state.

By the early 1900s, loss of habitat had restricted black bears to the western portion of the state. Maryland's last black bear hunting season took place in 1953. By the mid 1960s, the black bear population was nearly extirpated and was restricted to the more remote mountainous areas of Allegany and Garrett counties. In 1972, the status of the black bear was changed from that of a "forest game" animal to being listed on the state "endangered species" list.

As Maryland's second-growth forests have matured into a healthy and productive ecosystem, the black bear population responded by returning to parts of Maryland that had long been void of bears. Throughout the mid 1970s and 1980s, the Wildlife and Heritage Service (WHS) noted an increase in bear sightings and bear damage complaints. As a result, the black bear was removed from the state "endangered species" list in 1980 and listed as a "nongame species of special concern". In 1985, the status of the black bear was once again changed from a nongame species to a forest game species. Hunting seasons remained closed, however, as WHS developed a research and monitoring program for Maryland's recovering black bear population.

Thanks to the current healthy and productive condition of Maryland's forests and the conservation measures taken throughout the mid-Appalachian region, the western Maryland landscape is now home to a healthy, thriving black bear population. DNR research and population monitoring have shown an increasing trend in the black bear population since the 1980s.

DNR monitors the population through a variety of annual surveys (Scent Station, Mortality, and Reproduction Surveys), all of which demonstrate an increasing trend in the population. Additionally, DNR periodically conducts population studies, estimating the size of the bear population. A 1991 population study estimated 79 bears in Garrett County (12.0 bears per 100 sq. mi.). In 2000, DNR conducted another population study that estimated 227 adult and subadult bears (27.3 bears per 100 sq. mi.) in Garrett and western Allegany counties. The 2000 study demonstrated a higher density of bears than was found in the adjacent Pennsylvania counties where 21.7 bears per 100 sq. mi. were reported at that time.

Another population estimate was then conducted across Garrett and Allegany counties in May and June 2005.  The results of this population study yielded an estimated population of 326 adult and subadult black bears in the same area (from Cumberland west).  This population estimate revealed a bear density of 39.2 bears per 100 square miles.  In May and June 2011, DNR completed the fieldwork necessary to establish Maryland's most recent population estimate.  In 2011, 701 adult and subadult bears were estimated in Garrett and Allegany counties.  This study revealed an estimated bear density of 64.5 bears per 100 square miles in the study area


Black bear season fails to reach quota

94 animals killed; Department of Natural Resources had set goal of at least 95

Harry Spiker
Harry Spiker attaches an ear tag to one of four cubs in Green Ridge State Forest. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources uses microchips to tag bear cubs so that they can monitored with a scanner. (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun / March28, 2006)

By Don Markus, The Baltimore Sun

Maryland's annual black bear hunt went into overtime Saturday, and some might look at the outcome as a moral victory for the hairy, soon-to-be hibernating creatures.
For the first time since the hunt was revived in 2004 after a 51-year hiatus, hunters who spent part of the past six days in Garrett and Allegany counties failed to meet the quota set by the state Department of Natural Resources' Heritage and Wildlife Service.
According to Harry Spiker, the state's bear biologist, 94 bears were killed as of Saturday night — one shy of a quota that had been raised from last year with hopes of taking between 95 and 130. A year ago, 92 bears were killed with the quota between 80 and 110.
But Spiker considered the event a success, particularly for the fact that there was a "major increase" in the number of bears taken in Allegany County.
"We had 22 this year, and I don't think we've ever had more than 10," Spiker said.
The increase in the number of bears taken in the eastern part of the hunt corresponds with what Spiker sees as a migration of bears in that direction — as far east as Montgomery County.
The hunt was slowed this year by bad weather. After a record 41 bears were taken Monday in perfect conditions on the first day of the hunt, a combination of rain, snow and cold temperatures hit Western Maryland and contributed to a significant decline in the number of hunters as well as the amount of time they spent hunting.
It's not the first time the bear hunt has been hampered by weather. After the state reached its quota of 30 bears in 2004, the year the hunt was resumed, a foot of snow fell the following year on the first day. It took four days for the quota to be reached.

The hunt is held annually in hopes of reducing the state's bear population, estimated at about 700 adult and sub-adult bears in the most recent survey.
"Our ideal is to reach the quota, but if we don't, next year is another year," Spiker said Friday night. "We'll hunt again. It's just a blip on the radar."
Spiker said 748 hunters (32 fewer than last year) took part in the six days of hunting after a record 380 were issued permits from the more than 3,500 who applied.
The average weight of the bears killed was 148 pounds, with the biggest being a 392-pound male. It was taken Tuesday near Oakland by Mark Martin, 20, who lives in the area.
Joe Lamp was rooting for the quota not to be reached. A longtime opponent of the hunt who is a former member of the state's Wildlife Commission, Lamp sent a letter to Gov. Martin O'Malley on Saturday asking him to shut down the hunt.
Told by a reporter earlier in the day that the quota had yet to be reached, Lamp said: "I'm thrilled they didn't. It's the best news for the bears."
10 Year Impact of Black Bear Hunting in Maryland
With the 10th year of the modern Maryland bear hunt approaching, state bear biologist Harry Spiker, who has managed the hunt since its return after a 51-year absence, reflected in an interview with The Baltimore Sun on what happened when the hunt returned, whether he feels it has accomplisted its goals, and where the hunt — and the bears — will be going in the future.

BS: With the 10th year of the bear hunt coming up this week (Oct. 21-26), what do you remember of the hunt back in 2004?
HS: What I remember is the attention that we got from around the world. We had interest in it from England and Japan and people commenting in the United States from as far away as California. I just remember all the controversy and the fear that some people had that we were going to wipe bears out and that they wouldn't be around. Since then, the population has continued to grow at a more controlled rate, and 10 years later, we're basically following the same model.

BS: How big is the current bear population, by your estimation, and if there was not a bear hunt, how big would it be?
HS: Our last population estimate was in 2011 and, based on that, I can comfortably say that there were more than 1,000 bears in our four western counties, more than 700 adult and sub-adult bears in Garrett and Allegany counties, which is where the hunt takes place. To be honest, I don't know if I could give a point estimate of what it would be if we had not had this hunt for the last 10 years, but I can say that it would be much, much larger than what it is.

BS: Do you think the bears would have migrated more into more populated areas such as Frederick, Montgomery and Howard counties?
HS: We're definitely seeing a range expansion of bears. We don't consider Montgomery County occupied because for us to consider a county occupied, you have to have evidence of sows giving birth to cubs there. We have so many sightings in Montgomery County. I expect they are there, we just don't know it. But I expect to color Montgomery County in on our map [as occupied] very soon. Our bear population has recolonized, moving like a wave from west to east, and I do believe we have absolutely slowed down that wave so that the eastern part of our state is minimized because of the hunt.

BS: Do you see a day when the bear hunt itself would expand to those other counties?
HS: Bears are tough to collect data on because of their large home ranges and the fact that they typically avoid people. As the populations grow there — and we're monitoring the population in Washington and Frederick counties — I can see it being expanded in the future. I don't think it's there yet. I can definitely see it happening in the future. We don't have a specific criteria set up, but we will continue to watch the expansion and the population. That's not a discussion we've had at this point. … We also will see how people respond to the bears. We do a lot of education on how to live with bears, and how people react to bears is just as important.

BS: As you mentioned, there was a lot of controversy leading into the first bear hunt, including a lawsuit the week before, trying to stop it. Do you feel as if those who were opposed then will be opposed regardless of how controlled the hunt is, or do you see the opponents beginning to understand what the intent is?
HS: I think you'll probably see both. Some people are opposed to hunting in general and will never accept hunting of any species. I can see a shift in our urban areas that people seem to be more willing to allow deer hunters into their properties now than they did 15 years ago. That's more a sociological question than a biological question.
BS: In terms of the bear population, has it changed at all?
HS: Absolutely, it's changed. Our stated goal is to slow the growth, to have a more controlled growth of the population. Our goal was not to turn the population down the other way. That's what we have done. In fact, before the first hunt, if memory serves me right, we had a ballpark figure of 330 sub-adult bears here in Allegany County. In 2011, it was over 700. I say adult [18 months and older] and sub-adult because the methods we use totally ignore the cub class. We know that's a minimum, conservative estimate.

BS: Ten years into the hunt, is there is still a lot of enthusiasm in the state for bear hunting?
HS: Interest has grown. The number of applications we've seen has climbed. A few less this year than last year — last year was our peak, at just over 4,000 applications for 340 permits. This year, we had just around 3,600 people apply for 380 permits. That first year was just over 2,000 people applied. We've definitely seen an increase in interest from the public.

BS: That first year, I read that the bear quota was taken in one day. What are expectations for this year's hunt?
HS: That's the only year we reached quota in one day. Since then, most years, it's been a four-day hunt. One year, it was a two-day hunt, and two years where it was a five-day hunt. I think we'll reach the quota of 95 to 130 bears in four to five days.

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