DNR Announces Black Bear Population Estimate And Hunt Quota

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The Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife and Heritage Service (WHS) today announced the results from the latest black bear population study, which was conducted in Garrett and Allegany counties during the summer of 2005. As expected, the number of bears found in Maryland’s core bear area (Garrett and western Allegany counties) has increased since 2000. The 2005 study produced a population estimate of 326 adult and subadult (yearling) black bears in Garrett and western Allegany counties. This represents a 44 percent increase over the 227 adult and subadult bears estimated 5 years earlier by a similar study.

To conduct the study, In May and June of 2005 WHS staff collected black bear hair samples at trap sites throughout Garrett and Allegany counties. The samples were then forwarded to a laboratory where genetic analysis technology was used to examine each sample and identify the individual bear that left the hair behind. The results of the DNA identification process were then subjected to a rigorous statistical analysis.

According to WHS Director Paul A. Peditto, “The results of this study and the analysis reinforce our commitment to ensuring a sound scientific foundation as the basis for all of our decision-making for black bears in Maryland. Conducting a scientifically sound study to estimate a population of wide-ranging wild animals across a largely undeveloped landscape is a difficult and time-consuming task. The results of this effort reinforce the department’s commitment to using state-of-the-art technology and techniques to fully understand and manage the black bear resource in Maryland.”

In addition to periodic population estimates, WHS conducts a number of annual surveys used to monitor trends in the black bear population. All of these data sources indicate that our black bear population continues to grow.

In addition to providing the foundation for future management decisions, this estimate was used to refine the black bear harvest quota for the 2006 bear-hunting season to be held in all of Garrett and Allegany counties. WHS has set a quota of 35 to 55 bears for the upcoming season that will be held Oct 23-28 and Dec 4-9, 2006. WHS will award 220 bear-hunting permits through a random drawing process. This year’s quota is similar to last year’s and is in keeping with our commitment to slowing the growth of the bear population in Maryland while ensuring that bears, people and their environment can co-exist peacefully.

Interested hunters may begin applying online for a bear-hunting permit at http://blackbear.dnr.state.md.us at 9:00 AM August 1, 2006. Online applications will be received through 6:00 PM September 1, 2006. Phone applications will also be accepted at 888-579-6768 between 9:00 AM and 5:30 PM from August 28 through September 1, 2006. Applicants will be required to pay a $15 nonrefundable application fee. Applicants are limited to submitting only 1 application. Multiple applications will result in the rejection of all applications from that individual.