Black Bear Task Force Releases Draft

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The 12-member Maryland Black Bear Task Force (BBTF) today issued its draft report which is available on the Department of Natural Resources Web site, by email, and at Wildlife and Heritage Service offices. The task force considers the recommendations found in this draft report subject to modification pending review of public comments during the public comment period, which runs from Nov. 14 through Dec. 13. The task force will consider all public comment before finalizing its recommendations to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

For many recommendations the task force was unanimous, while for others there were significant differences of opinion. The task force decided that a 60-percent majority would be necessary for a recommendation to be included in this draft report. The task force also felt that it was important that significant values and opinions of individual task force members be communicated to the public. Each task force member has been provided the opportunity to provide commentary as part of this report.

Among the task force draft recommendations:

  • Maintain black bear populations at levels compatible with land use and property concerns;
  • Use "Regulated Hunting" as a tool to achieve a targeted population objective;
  • Aggressively teach residents and tourists what they can do to minimize conflicts with bears;
  • Allow individuals to kill problem bears under certain circumstances;
  • Conduct a public attitude survey to determine the perceptions and desires of people concerning bears and to enable the public to provide input on the bear management program;
  • Discontinue the sale of Black Bear Conservation Stamps as a revenue-generating program for the bear damage compensation program;
  • Develop an emergency plan to be implemented in the event of a black bear attack on a human;
  • Provide 100-percent compensation for eligible bear damage claims via Maryland?s General Fund; and
  • In the event that regulated hunting is not initiated, hunting license revenues should no longer be used as the primary funding source for bear management.

The task force worked for nearly a year to examine past efforts under the 1992 Maryland Black Bear Management Plan, identify important public values to consider for bear management, and provide recommendations to DNR on the future of black bear management in Maryland. One of the charges of this task force was to solicit and consider input from individuals and groups that may have disparate opinions on bear management.

The 37-page draft report and an accompanying document providing public comment guidelines are available via e-mail at: [email protected]. These documents are also available on DNR's Web site:

Comments can be e-mailed to: [email protected] or sent by mail to Black Bear Management Plan, P.O. Box 1138, Cumberland, MD 21502.

In addition a public meeting will be held on Nov. 14, in the auditorium at Garrett College in McHenry, Garrett County. This meeting will begin at 7 p.m. People planning to provide comment at this meeting must sign up prior to the start of the meeting, should be prepared to submit written comments, and must adhere to a time limit for verbal comments.