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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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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Cameras set at regular intervals in the Nogal Nature and Community Reserve, a biodiversity conservation partnership in Nogal, in Sarapiquí, Costa Rica, located in theMesoamerican Biological Corridor. The cameras capture pictures of animals every 300 meters as they cross through the biological corridor and utilizing the new reforestation areas. Cameras are placed on a small post near a half plastic bottle filled with scented fabric shreds. The scent used on the threads is an effective, non-invasive way to attract animals, especially felines, as determined by other scientific studies of animals.
The reserve is particularly interested in following the activities of the spotted jungle cat, the ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), to determine its movement between the forested areas. The spots of ocelots are unique to each individual, which allows for individual identification to verify if the same cat is seen in different areas of the corridor.(Coyote and Ocelot pictured below)

Chiquita ocelot

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

91 Moose were killed by New Hampshire hunters in the just wrapped 9 day season...................When the first moose hunt occurred in New Hampshire in 1988, there were about 1,600 animals in the state............ The moose population peaked in the late 1990s, with between 7,000 and 7,500 moose in New Hampshire.............. Since that time, the population has gone down to about 4,000 animals today.............. About half the decline was an intentional response to the public's desire for fewer moose-car collisions................ The other half is due to threats such as winter tick in the north and deer transmitted brainworm in the south......................... A study begain in 2014 to try to learn more about the health of New Hampshire's moose and the impact of these expanding maladies............. Today moose occur in all ten counties, with the highest densities in the Great North Woods.............With the continued evidence that tics and brainwork will continue to destabilize New Hampshire's Moose population, it is sound thinking to only have hunters killing 2 to 3% of the herd annually, as this years statistics seem to suggest

N.H. moose hunt a success

Posted: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 12:05 am
CONCORD — New Hampshire’s 2014 moose season wrapped up on Sunday. Preliminary figures show that 91 hunters succeeded in taking their moose during the nine-day season.  With a total of 127 permits issued, this represents a statewide success rate of 72 percent. The breakdown for the harvest this year was 57 bulls (63 percent) and 34 cows (37 percent). Final season results will be available upon completion of registration data entry and analysis.

“We’re pleased with this success rate,” said Kristine Rines, Fish and Game’s longtime moose biologist. “The percentage has been down a bit the last two years, so this is good.”
NH Fish and Game Dept.
11 Hazen Drive
Concord, NH 03301

Moose (Alces alces)

Moose (c) Alan Briere
Range and Distribution
Moose occur in Alaska, Canada, northern U.S. from Washington across to northern New England, and the northern Rockies south to Utah. Prior to European settlement moose were more common than deer in New Hampshire; their range extended from the Canadian border to the seacoast.

 During a year, moose home ranges vary from less than one square mile to more than 25, depending on the season. By the mid-1800s, fewer than 15 moose existed in New Hampshire. The small number and loss of habitat slowed the recovery of the moose population. The moose herd didn't begin to rebound noticeably until the early 1970s. By this time, abandoned farmlands and changes in forest practices created a mosaic of mature and young re-growing forests providing excellent moose habitat.

 When the first moose hunt occurred in New Hampshire in 1988, there were about 1,600 animals in the state. The moose population peaked in the late 1990s, with between 7,000 and 7,500 moose in New Hampshire. Since that time, the population has gone down to about 4,000 animals today. About half the decline was an intentional response to the public's desire for fewer moose-car collisions. The other half is due to threats such as winter tick in the north and brainworm in the south. A study begain in 2014 to try to learn more about the health of New Hampshire's moose (click here to learn more). Today moose occur in all ten counties, with the highest densities in the Great North Woods.
Moose (c) John J. Mosesso

Moose may live 20 years, but average lifespan is 10-12 years. They die from various causes. Black bear are a significant predator on moose calves until calves are nine weeks old. By then calves can outmaneuver a bear. Coyotes may take an occasional calf. Moose are susceptible to a tiny parasite known as brainworm.

White-tailed deer carry the parasite, although they're unaffected. The parasite passes from deer feces to a land snail to the moose which ingest the snail while feeding on browse. Moose usually die from this infection. Moose also die from severe infestations of winter ticks. Moose attempt to remove ticks by scratching, licking, and rubbing often removing their hair at the same time. This can lead to secondary infections and hypothermia. One moose can carry 10,000 to 120,000 ticks. Moose also die as a result of collisions with automobiles.
Brake for Moose
Brake for mooseEac

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

When you read this report on the status of Minnesota's Black Bear population it becomes readiy apparent that we must move beyond hunter kills in determining optimum population levels for Black Bears............I got dizzy reading about increased killing licenes, decreased killing licenses,,,,,,,,,,,,,,population up, population down,,,,,,,,,,,,,population "all around the town"............Time to let biologists determine carnivore populations based on forest health and the health of all species that the carnivores(in this case black bears) impact through the chain of life

Minnesota black bear population finds stability

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune 
  • Updated: October 25, 2014 - 4:49 PM
New DNR strategies have helped bruins come back.
Minnesota’s black bear population — which now numbers 10,000 to 
15,000 after peaking around 25,000 — appears 
to have stabilized 
after state officials deliberately reduced the 
population by boosting
 hunter numbers.
Bruin numbers topped out in the late 1990s
and early 2000s, then fell dramatically as the
Department of Natural Resources issued
more permits to hunters.

“Our bear population was increasing quite fast
during the 1980s and ’90s, and the only way to
control it was to increase the number of hunters,’’
 said Karen Noyce, DNR bear research biologist
 in Grand Rapids.
To do that, the DNR made more hunting permits
available, and the number of bear hunters increased
 from 3,700 in 1985 to nearly 17,000 in 2000.
“The goal was to level off the bear
 population growth,’’ she said.
It worked. Maybe too well.
In 1985, those 3,700 hunters killed 1,340 bears,
but in 1995, the number of hunters had jumped to
11,600, and they harvested nearly 5,000 bears.
 Over the next 10 years, hunters averaged 3,500
 bears yearly.
The bear population dropped.
By 2008, the DNR estimated bear numbers had
fallen about 30 percent to 15,000 to 20,000.
“We accomplished what we wanted to do,’’ Noyce
said. But it appeared the population continued to
 fall even though the number of bear permits
available to hunters was slashed.
“It was a trend we didn’t like,’’ Noyce 
said. “We decreased hunter numbers 
dramatically because we wanted to
be sure to stop the population from
 declining further.’’
Last year and this fall, the DNR offered just
3,750 permits, the fewest in 30 years. (Hunters
 don’t need those permits in some areas.)
Hunters killed just 1,618 bears this fall, the
lowest in 26 years. About 6,200 people hunted
 bears, the lowest since 1989. The season
 ended Oct. 12.
Fewer bear hunters in the woods is OK,
 officials say. When hunter numbers were
at a peak, Noyce said, hunters complained
the woods were too crowded and the quality
 of the hunt fell. Though bear hunter numbers
 have fallen because of the reduced availability
 of permits, interest remains high: More than
 18,000 people applied for permits last year.
These days officials believe the bear population
 is between 10,000 and 15,000.
“We’d like to see it come back up a ways,’’
 Noyce said. The DNR has no population target.
“We’d be pretty happy with 15,000 to 20,000
bears,’’ Noyce said.
Estimating the population of bears — and
managing that population — is tricky business.
The DNR puts out baits laced with tetracycline,
an antibiotic. The chemical is deposited in the
 teeth and bones, and can be detected later
 in bears killed by hunters.
Successful bear hunters are required to
 submit two teeth from their animals to the
DNR. The percentage of those bears with
tetracycline allows researchers to estimate
 the population. The DNR also uses the teeth
 to age bears, which also provides a way to
 estimate the population.
The amount of natural food in the woods can
vary dramatically, and that has a big impact
 on whether bears will be lured to hunters’ baits
and killed.
“The harvest fluctuates a lot each year for
reasons other than how many bears there
are and how many hunters are out there,’’
 Noyce said.
“In 1995, we shot nearly 5,000 bears. The
 very next year we shot less than 2,000 bears
with similar number of hunters.’’ The difference
was the availability of food. Lack of natural food
in the woods also triggers more nuisance bear
 complaints as bruins seek out food at bird
 feeders or garbage cans.
Noyce said neither hunters nor wildlife watchers
need to be concerned about the bear population.
“With the level of harvest, we’ll be coming back
 up very soon, if we’re not already,’’ she said.
 “We have a good, robust population. With
 any [wildlife] population, there are going to be
 ebbs and flows.
“I don’t have any concerns about the bear

Monday, October 27, 2014



read henry glick's full Eastern Cougar paper by clicking on this link

On Mon, Oct 27, 2014 at 8:18 AM, McCollough, Mark <> wrote:
Hi Rick - I am familiar with the Yale student.  I can't recall his name at the moment, but he visited our office about a year ago and I gave him access to our file, talked to him at length, etc.  He shared some of his preliminary cougar models with me.

Can you please send a copy of the attachment of the Yale study?  It does not seem to be attached to your email.

I have no argument that there is potential habitat for cougars in eastern North America in New York, ME, NY, PA, and points further south.  In fact, if you review the Service's status review for the eastern cougar (under the state, province sections) you will find a review of what science was available at that time on cougar habitat evaluations in the East.  I can recall at least three significant evaluations.  Since then, John Laundre did an evaluation for the Adirondacks and the Yale study.

The USFWS recommendation from our recent cougar review was to delist the eastern cougar subspecies based on extinction.  Our Region 5 headquarters is preparing the paperwork.  When we do so, there will be an announcement in the Federal Register of our proposal to delist and a call for public comments.  We could find no evidence of the presence of the original eastern cougar subspecies remaining in eastern North America.

That's not to say that cougars/pumas do show up in the East, again as documented in our cougar review.  However, we believe these to be either dispersing animals from western populations (e.g., the animal that made the spectacular movement from the Dakotas to CT) or release/escaped pets, neither of which are technically protected under the ESA.

I've encougaraged cougar and large carnivore enthusiasts to concentrate on starting a public dialogue about the potential for restoring large predators to our eastern forest.  Instead, many focus on  trying to prove that the eastern cougar subspecies still exists, government conspiracies, etc.  I am disappointed that State and Federal governments have been reluctant to initiate discussions about restoration (whether it is wolves, cougars, etc.), but there are some good reasons.  One is that we simply do not have the funds, nor the political will/interest to initiate such public discussion.  However, this could change if the public demonstrated greater interest in this topic.  

Case in point, a few years ago Defenders of Wildlife and National Wildlife Federation were interested in promoting wolf restoration to the Northeast.  Their public presentations, news releases, response to possible wolf sightings, etc. brought this issue to the forefront of State and Federal wildlife agency attention.  Unfortunately, both organizations seem to have abandoned this work (except for the private work of a few individuals like Geri Vistein in Maine).  As a result, there is little discussion of wolf restoration in wildlife agencies.

I thought the Chris Spatz and others were planning a cougar/large carnivore forum in the Northeast this fall, but have not heard any details.

Good to hear from you again. 

Mark McCollough

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mark McCollough is a friend and the biologist who conducted the 5 YEAR REVIEW, SUMMARY AND EVALUATION OF THE STATUS OF COUGARS IN THE EASTERN USA OUTSIDE OF FLORIDA............His 2011 report concluded that the Eastern Cougar to be functionally extinct east of the Mississippi(outside of the 100 or so animals still calling Florida home)................Mark and another good friend, Puma biologist John Laundre(Landscape of Fear paradigm), were called upon and provided important information for Yale School of Forestry's Henry B. Glick whose just published MODELING COUGAR HABITAT IN THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES can be read in full below---Mr. Glick takes into account prey base(deer and Moose), road and human population density and other key factors to conclude that a minimum of 322 Cougars could once again reside in New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and the Adirondack State Park of NY............Glick also discusses his modeling paradigms that suggest that as a highly adaptable animal, as many as 2,535 Cougars could make a living in New England/New York................Let us all be around for the initial populating of this region with both Cougars and Wolves joining Eastern Coyotes, Bobcats, Lynx, Black Bears, Fishers and Martens,,,,,the current carnivore suite of the Northeast

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Rick Meril <>
Date: Sun, Oct 26, 2014 at 8:52 AM
Subject: Yale University Pumas study
To: "McCollough, Mark" <>, 

Modeling cougar habitat in the Northeastern United States
Henry B. Glick∗
Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, 195 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT 06511, USA

click on link below to read full research paper


Hope this finds you well and enjoying.................Have not conversed with you for a couple of years
and wanted to re-enter your sphere with the latest Northeast assessment by Yale University suggesting that as few as 322 and as many as 2535 pumas could once again inhabit New England and New York State.

Guessing that you are familiar with this new paper(attached).

Your thoughts Mr Mark please based on your 2011 comments below please.




Dr. McCollough has been evaluating the possible existence of
cougars in the East that are descended from native stock as 
part of the US Fish & Wildlife Service's Five Year 
Review of the Eastern Cougar.  We expect the report to be

 Biologist disputes cougar sightings

- Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

Warren Bryant, left, of Jay describes how he found what appeared to be cougar tracks three years ago in Moscow as U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wildlife biologist Mark McCulloch examines Bryant's photographs of the tracks following the biologist's presentation Wednesday night on Eastern cougars at the University of Maine at Farmington. In back is Al Stark of Phillips who said he'd seen cougar tracks in the Moscow-Caratunk area and in Phillips

FARMINGTON — Warren Bryant of Jay and Al Stark of Phillips learned Wednesday night that they had something in common: Both believe they've seen tracks in Moscow made by an Eastern cougar, possibly the same one.

Bryant photographed the tracks three years ago and took copies to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Mark McCullough to learn whether they were from a mountain lion.
McCullough of Orono was in town Wednesday night to present a program titled "The Eastern Cougar: Wild Cats or Wild Imagination" for the Western Maine Audubon Society at the University of Maine at Farmington.

After viewing Bryant's photos, McCullough said the track looked more like that of a large dog because the hind-edge heel shape didn't have the distinctive three even lobes that cougars have.
"Toes of cats are more rounded versus toes of dogs, which are more tear-dropped, and you'll see a toenail," McCullough said.

Stark told the biologist that his grandson said he saw a cougar chasing a deer near Robinson Pond in Moscow while hunting. Stark also said he had seen what he believes are cougar tracks in Phillips.

Following Wednesday night's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service program entitled "The Eastern Cougar: Wild Cats or Wild Imaginations?" by federal wildlife biologist Mark McCullough at the University of Maine at Farmington, Lisa and Warren Bryant of Jay, left, asked McCullough if photographs Warren Bryant took three years ago in Moscow are cougar tracks.

Bryant said he's seen what appear to be big cat tracks three times in Moscow just west of the radar station, and that hunters have told him they've seen a cougar on Macomber Hill in Jay. Stark said he's seen cougar tracks near Moxie Mountain in Caratunk.
McCullough advised both to contact Chuck Hulsey, a wildlife biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife in Strong, and to visit the Cougar Network at

He also told them to return to the area after snowfall to search for tracks and to photograph a sequence of stride tracks beside measuring tape.
"In snow, you will see where their tail drags every once in a while," McCullough said. "If its tracks show that it jumps 20 feet onto a log, that's not a St. Bernard."
McCullough's slide show addressed cougar sightings by taking viewers through a history of the big cats in both North and South America from millions of years ago to the present.
"This is an animal that's probably extinct, although we get numerous reports of cougars being seen all the time," he said of what he called Unidentified Feline Objects, eliciting laughter.
In 1967, the Eastern cougar was one of the nation's first species placed on the federal endangered species list.
McCullough said that in Colonial times, hunters exterminated cougars, along with their main prey, the white-tailed deer, to the point that cougars were rarely encountered in Maine during the 1800s.
"The last one in Maine was believed killed in 1938," McCullough said. "Many early naturalists wrote that the Eastern cougar went extinct by the early 1900s."
"The eradication of the cougar in the East continued through the Midwest and West," he said.

Warren Bryant of Jay holds photographs taken of what he believes to be the possible track of a mountain lion in Moscow.

"Between 1900 to 1970, over 200,000 cougars were killed by federal and private bounty hunters. Cougars were considered vermin and there was an unrestricted harvest of the animals."

For a male cougar to exist, it must have 44 deer each year, whereas a female mountain lion with cubs must have 113, which is why they require a fairly dense population of deer, and plenty of space, McCullough said.
Males, he said, can range from 78 to 195 square miles and females from 8 to 400 square miles.

McCullough said there are two new populations of cougars in the Dakotas and evidence that some are dispersing throughout the country, but whether any have returned to Maine is a lively topic.
Offering three hypotheses for cougars existing in Maine, McCullough said they may not have been completely wiped out, or they are dispersing from known populations in the Midwest or Canada, or, most likely, they're pets that have either escaped from captivity or have been released.
"The way we as scientists look at it is that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence," he said. "Ninety to 95 percent of reports of cougar sightings are the mistaken identification of other species of wildlife."


Eastern cougar

For immediate release 
March 2, 2011                                             


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 

concludes eastern cougar extinct

Bruce Wright, New Brunswick wildlife biologist and author, with what is believed to be the last eastern puma.  The puma was trapped by Rosarie Morin of St. Zacharie, Quebec in Somerset County, Maine in 1938. Mounted specimen resides in the New Brunswick Museum in St. John, New Brunswick.
Credit: USFWS     
Bruce Wright, New Brunswick wildlife biologist and author, with what is believed to be the last eastern puma. The puma was trapped by Rosarie Morin of St. Zacharie, Quebec in Somerset County, Maine in 1938. Mounted specimen resides in the New Brunswick Museum in St. John, New Brunswick.

Although the eastern cougar has been on the endangered species list since 1973, its existence has long been questioned. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) conducted a formal review of the available information and, in a report issued today, concludes the eastern cougar is extinct and recommends the subspecies be removed from the endangered species list.

“We recognize that many people have seen cougars in the wild within the historical range of the eastern cougar,” said the Service’s Northeast Region Chief of Endangered Species Martin Miller. “However, we believe those cougars are not the eastern cougar subspecies. We found no information to support the existence of the eastern cougar.”

Reports of cougars observed in the wild examined during the review process described cougars of other subspecies, often South American subspecies, that had been held in captivity and had escaped or been released to the wild, as well as wild cougars of the western United States subspecies that had migrated eastward to the Midwest.

During the review, the Service received 573 responses to a request for scientific information about the possible existence of the eastern cougar subspecies; conducted an extensive review of U.S. and Canadian scientific literature; and requested information from the 21 States within the historical range of the subspecies. No States expressed a belief in the existence of an eastern cougar population. According to Dr. Mark McCollough, the Service’s lead scientist for the eastern cougar, the subspecies of eastern cougar has likely been extinct since the 1930s.

The Service initiated the review as part of its obligations under the Endangered Species Act. The Service will prepare a proposal to remove the eastern cougar from the endangered species list, since extinct animals are not eligible for protection under the Endangered Species Act. The proposal will be made available for public comment.
The Service's decision to declare the eastern cougar extinct does not affect the status of the Florida panther, another wild cat subspecies listed as endangered. Though the Florida panther once ranged throughout the Southeast, it now exists in less than five percent of its historic habitat and in only one breeding population of 120 to 160 animals in southwestern Florida.

Additional information about eastern cougars, including frequently asked questions and cougar sightings, is at: Find information about endangered species at

The Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and a trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information about our work and the people who make it happen, visit

Download printable PDF version
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concludes eastern cougar extinct
 (March 2, 2011) (PDF 25K)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

With the kill rate of Pumas amped up in South Dakota, it has taken two years for a Puma to make it to Kansas, the tenth such verified sighting of our "Big Cat" over the past 7 years in the Jayhawk state....................Breeding Pumas were last identified in Kansas at the turn of the 20th century with the last sighting(prior to 2007) in 1904 in Ellis County.

Mountain lion caught on camera in Kansas, KDWPT says

Posted: October 25, 2014 - 4:32pm

A photograph taken by a trail camera in Labette County shows a mountain lion walking away from the camera on a private property. The photograph had a date stamp of 9/24/2014 and a time stamp of 5:56 a.m. At the landowner's request, the exact location of where the trail camera photo was taken will be kept confidential as it is private property and the landowner is currently hunting there.   COURTESY OF KANSAS DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE, PARKS AND TOURISM
A photograph taken by a trail camera in Labette County shows a mountain lion walking away from the camera on a private property. The photograph had a date stamp of 9/24/2014 and a time stamp of 5:56 a.m. At the landowner's request, the exact location of where the trail camera photo was taken will be kept confidential as it is private property and the landowner is currently hunting there.

PRATT — A deer hunter from Labette County got a surprise recently when he checked his trail camera he had set up for deer. He found a single image of a mountain lion walking away, down the trail, the characteristic long tail prominently displayed. Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism staff visited the site last week and verified the photo’s authenticity. This is the 10th mountain lion verified by KDWPT since 2007, but the first in almost two years.
The first confirmed mountain lion in 2007 was killed by an individual in Barber County. Since then, most of the sightings have been confirmed with photographs taken by remote, motion-triggered cameras commonly used by deer hunters to keep track of deer movement near their stands.
“It’s not uncommon for young males to travel great distances looking for home ranges,” said Matt Peek, KDWPT furbearer biologist. “So far, these animals appear to be passing through, rather than staying and establishing home ranges in Kansas.”

Kansas Puma sightings-timeline

• On Dec. 7, 2010, images of a mountain lion were captured on a trail camera in Nemaha County. The animal was near a deer-bait pile.
• In October 2010, another trail camera caught a mountain lion in Republic County visiting a mineral site that also had a bait pile for deer.
• In March 2010, a Colorado mountain lion that had a tracking device entered Kansas. The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks was able to follow the animal’s progress as it moved through western Kansas. The mountain lion is now in New Mexico.
• In October 2009, a mountain lion was photographed several times in Trego County near a corn pile.
• In November 2007, a mountain lion was killed in Barber County. DNA samples from the animal were sent to a federal research lab in Montana to see if the animal was wild or one that had lived in captivity and escaped. Results indicated that it was most likely a wild animal; however, researchers couldn’t link it to a specific population of animals. 

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