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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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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Historically, black bears were found in all of Maryland’s counties........ However, as settlers cleared the landscape for agriculture, industry, and timber production throughout the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, most of Maryland’s suitable black bear habitat was lost............. By the mid-20th century, black bears could only be found in the rugged mountainous areas in western Maryland....................... By the mid 1950s, only a few bears were estimated to remain in the state........... In 2011, the Dept. of Natural Resources conducted a Black Bear survey in the 4 western counties where the Bears are known to be breeding............ A DNA-based mark-recapture study was conducted in Garrett, Allegany, Washington, and Frederick counties............... Black bear hair samples were collected and sent to the USGS Aquatic Ecology Laboratory in Kearneysville, WV for genetic analysis............... : Due to a lack of samples, there is no reliable black bear population estimates for Washington and Frederick counties........... Sample size was expected to be lower in those counties because of the lower bear density. ............ However, in Garrett and Allegany counties, DNR estimates that there are some 700 bruins existing at this time.................. This represents a 94% increase since the 2005 population estimate of 362 adult and subadult bears.................... The density for these counties was calculated at.64 bears per square mile, similar to that of nearby Pennsylvania(0.6 per sq. mile) and significantly lower than that of southern NJ(1.6 per sq. mile)............In the most recent 2014 Black Bear hunt, 69 animals were killed, down from 90+ bears in 2012 and 2013........2009- through 2011 saw roughly 67 bears killed each year by hunters................Additionally, some 55 to 70 Bears die annually from other human caused mortality events(e.g road kills)..........................If the 700 Bear population estimate is accurate in Garrett and Allegany counties, then roughly 20 to 25% of the population is killed each year, within the long term persistence paradigm that most biologists feel keeps the Bears at healthy population levels..................Once again,, all of these statistics revolve around "human comfort" Bear populations, not necessarily what is best for the overall health of the Maryland woodlands biodiversity

Black Bear Season Now Closed In Maryland

Posted: Oct 24, 2014 6:51 PM PDT
MARYLAND - The 11th annual Maryland black bear hunt ended Thursday with a total of 69 bears harvested. For the first time, the hunt was carried out as a four-day season instead of being guided by a predetermined quota.

?Harry Spiker, DNR's lead bear biologist, said he was pleased with the results despite the final total, which was below last year's record of 94. The hunt was complicated by cold, wet and windy conditions coupled with a generally poor acorn crop—a primary bear food source–this fall.

“Despite those factors we were well within our 10-year harvest average for this hunt,” said Spiker, the Game Mammal Section Leader. “We will review the results from this season and incorporate the data into decisions that might further improve the success of this effort in coming seasons.”

The 2014 Maryland Black Bear hunt by the numbers:

– A total of 3,631 hunters applied for a permit and 450 permits were issued, representing 1,061 hunters.

– The heaviest bear checked in weighed 418 pounds, and was taken by Garrett Hoffman of Swanton. The average weight was 143 pounds.

– A total of 52 percent of the bears were taken on private land; 45 percent of the successful hunters were from Garrett and Allegany counties

– Hunters checked in 57 bears from Garrett County and 12 from Allegany County.

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.


Bear Hunters' Guide to Hunting Black Bears in Maryland 2014

Table 1. Bear Hunt Statistics: 2004-2013


No. of Permittees
No. of Applications
No. of Bears Harvested
Hunter Success Rate

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