DNR will Release Bear Hunt Details at Public Hearing

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The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Wildlife and Heritage Service will hold a public meeting from 7–9 pm on Wednesday, March 10 to announce plans for a proposed black bear hunt to be held in the Fall of 2004.

The meeting will be held in the auditorium of Beall Junior-Senior High School on East Main Street in Frostburg. Details of the proposed regulations will be presented to the public and public comments specific to the proposed bear-hunting regulations will be taken. Public comments will also be accepted via e-mail at: customerservice@dnr.state.md.us or via the U.S. Postal Service at: Black Bear Project, 1728 King’s Run Road, Oakland, MD 21550. The comment period ends April 2.

Proposed regulations will be available for public comment online beginning March 1 at 12 noon at www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife/hntgp.html.

The proposed black bear-hunting season is a split-season that is scheduled to take place Oct. 25-30, 2004, and Dec. 6-11, 2004, in Garrett County and that portion of Allegany County that lies west of Evitt’s Creek. Proposed bear-hunting regulations follow:

Proposed Black Bear Hunting Regulations:

* Hunting Hours – One half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset.

* Licensing and Stamp Requirements – A Regular Hunting License, Junior Hunting License, Senior Hunting License or Nonresident Hunting License is required to hunt black bear. In addition to holding one of the above hunting licenses, black bear hunters must purchase a black bear hunting permit. Hunters entitled to hunt without a license must purchase a black bear hunting permit.

* Bag Limit – Only one bear may be harvested between any ‘permittee’ and ‘subpermittee’ team of hunting partners. A hunter may kill no more than one bear per season.

* Legal Hunting Devices – Any weapon/ammunition that is legal to harvest a deer is legal to harvest a black bear (including rifle, shotgun, muzzleloader, handgun, and archery equipment including a crossbow).

* Dogs – Dogs cannot be used to hunt black bear. However, trained tracking dogs may be used to find dead or wounded bears. The dog handler must maintain physical control of the tracking dog at all times and only the hunter may carry a firearm or bow while tracking the bear. Prior to tracking the bear, the hunter must notify by telephone or in person a local regional Natural Resources Police officer. The hunter may dispatch the bear only during legal shooting hours and by means legal for bear hunting. The hunter must also have written permission from the landowner or land manager before tracking the bear with dogs.

* Bait/Attractants – Hunting with the aid of bait is illegal. Planted fields where normal agricultural planting, harvesting, or post-harvest manipulations are used are not considered bait. The use of smell and sound attractants that provide no substance for bears to consume is allowed (e.g. food smells, scent lures, predator calls).

* Hunter Participation -- With the exception of personnel aiding or assisting in the retrieval of a dead bear, only those hunters possessing a bear-hunting permit are allowed to participate in the hunt.

* Contact between Hunting Partners – Each member of a permittee/subpermittee hunting team must maintain constant contact with each other at all times during the hunt.

* Driving – The act of driving bears is permitted by hunters in possession of a bear-hunting permit.

* Bear in a den – A bear in a den may not be killed or chased from the den.

* Legal Black Bears – Any black bear is considered legal game.

* Hunting Area – The legal hunting area will include all of Garrett County and that portion of Allegany County that lies west of Evitt’s Creek.

* Tagging, Field Dressing and Checking Requirements – A proper field tag must be completed and attached to the bear carcass before moving it from the kill site. The proper field tag will be provided with the bear-hunting permit. All bears must be field dressed at the kill site. Proof of sex must remain attached to the bear. A black bear may be quartered or separated into pieces to aid in retrieval. However, proof of sex must remain attached to at least one hindquarter and the head and hide must remain attached to each other until the animal has been checked in at a checking station. All harvested bears must be taken to a designated checking station by the permittee/subpermittee hunting team by 8:00 pm of the day the animal was harvested. Hunters shall also bring their hunting licenses and bear-hunting permits to the check station. If it is not feasible to take the bear to the checking station by 8 p.m. on the day of harvest, then the successful hunter must call the appropriate Wildlife & Heritage Service office by 8 p.m. on the day of harvest to report the kill. The successful hunter will then be required to bring the carcass to the checking station on the day following harvest within 24 hours of the kill. At the checking station, hunters will be required to forfeit a premolar from the skull of the bear to the Wildlife and Heritage Service. A possession tag will be provided to a hunter when the bear is checked in at the checking station. This possession tag will serve as proof that the hunter legally acquired the bear and any meat, head, hide, skull, or other parts from the bear. The possession tag must be kept with the meat and any bear parts until they are consumed or disposed of.

* Bear-Hunting Permits – Hunting permits will be allotted on a private/public land basis. A portion of the bear-hunting permits issued will be ‘Private Land Only’ permits. Private land is considered to be any property within the bear-hunting area that is not owned or managed by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The remaining portion of the bear-hunting permits will be valid for hunting on either private land or public land (Public land is considered to be any property within the bear-hunting area that is owned or managed by DNR). Those hunters who hunt bears on private land must have written permission from the landowner prior to hunting on such property.

* Fluorescent Orange – Bear hunters and any personnel aiding in the retrieval of a legally harvested bear must wear fluorescent orange in accordance with general hunting regulations.

* Phone-in Requirement – The Director of the Wildlife and Heritage Service (WHS) possesses the authority to cancel the bear hunt at any time during the bear-hunting season based on seasonal harvest. The permittee will be required to check-in daily after 8:30 p.m. to determine whether or not the hunt will remain open each subsequent day of the bear-hunting season.

* Sale of Bear Parts – No bears or bear parts may be sold.