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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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Sunday, March 2, 2014

The consequence of error in Black Bear population management is high as bears reproduce slowly and reduced populations require many years to recover................. Excessive removal of resident adult females is one of the 1st indicators of Black Bear exploitation and will lead to a population decline........... Once a bear population is over harvested, it may take a decade or more to recover (Hilton 1981)............... Recovery is slow because of the species' inherent low rate of reproduction (Jonkel and Cowan 1971) and lengthy period of maturation............. In Ontario, females tend not to have cubs before age 5 (Kolenosky, unpubl. data), whereas bears farther south in the USA may reproduce at age 3 (Sauer 1975, Alt 1981).. .............Are Maryland State Biologists playing "Russian Roulette" with their recovering Black Bear population (estimated to be somewhere between 700 and 1000 animals)by contemplating removing kill quotas and instead randomly establishing a hunting season that allows as many Bruins to be taken(males and females without restriction) as hunters are able to bring down?

The complete article can be viewed at:,0,5035620.story

Maryland might eliminate black bear quota

Change would give hunters a pre-determined number of days

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The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is considering eliminating the black bear hunt quota and instead opening the season for a pre-determined number of days.
The change is intended to help hunters plan more effectively and would eliminate the need for them to call a hotline each night to determine the status of the hunt.
Last October, for the first time since the hunt was revived in 2004 after a 51-year hiatus, hunters who spent parts of six days in Garrett and Allegany counties failed to meet the quota set by the DNR’s Wildlife and Heritage Service.
DNR is also accepting feedback by telephone at 410-260-8540 (toll free 877-620-8DNR ext. 8540); fax to 410-260-8596; and written mail to Karina Stonesifer, Acting Director, DNR Wildlife and Heritage Service, Tawes State Office Building E-1, Annapolis, MD, 21401.
The proposals will be presented and open for comment at the following public meetings:
Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Cadby Theatre (Room H-103) at Chesapeake College in Wye Mills.
Thursday at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria of Mountain Ridge High School in Frostburg.
The Wildlife and Heritage Service reevaluates regulations for game species every two years to ensure best management.

Read more:,0,5035620.story#ixzz2usCKZMvb


As Md. bear hunt nears 10th year, state biologist reflects on its impact

Spiker says that though bears' population growth has slowed, range has moved 'like a wave'

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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)
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.

Read more:,0,4423982.story#ixzz2usOkM1QY

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

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