Onward, Upward & Heading East

May 16th, 2014 No Comments

Young Maryland Black Bears Explore Frederick County

*Originally Published in the July 2012 LakeTalk Issue.

Throughout history black bears have called Maryland home. By the early 1900s black bears could only be found in the most remote and rugged areas of Garrett and western Alleghany counties. As agricultural pursuits were strengthened, the bear population was culled or pushed out entirely in southern Maryland and the eastern shore. In 1953 the State banned black bear hunting and in 1973 the Maryland Black Bear was placed on the endangered species list.

In 2004, after 51 years of a strict ban, Maryland implemented a limited bear hunting season in Garrett and Alleghany counties only. In 2011, the Department of Natural Resources, (DNR) administered a lottery that awarded 260 bear hunting permits to local hunters. The State always has a targeted harvest objective and in 2011 it was 55-80 bears. Once the hunt has met DNR’s targeted harvested objective, the season is over. Seasons over the last 7 years have lasted an average of 3 1/2 days.

Today Maryland has a thriving breeding population of black bears in Garrett, Alleghany, Washington and Frederick counties. Since 1986, Maryland sows have averaged 3 cubs per litter and DNR currently monitors 16 radio collared sows throughout the state. Last year DNR visited 8 dens and tagged 24 cubs. The prognosis for the black bear population in Maryland looks very healthy, so healthy that the population density in Garrett and Alleghany counties may be driving young bears eastward.

Black bears were seen in Emmitsburg this May and right here in Lake Linganore in June. According to DNR Bear Biologist, Harry Spiker, “Black bear sightings [east of Garrett and Alleghany counties]…still only occur during the dispersal time in May and June. This is the time of year when young black bears leave their mothers’ den to find new habitats. It’s not uncommon for some bears to travel more than 100 miles looking for a bear-friendly place to relocate.”

Bears are opportunistic and are attracted to easy food sources such as trash, pet food, *bird feeders, dirty grills, and vegetable/fruit gardens. Young bears are inquisitive and will learn from a successful foray through your backyard. Don’t become the source of good fortune−it’s not good for you or the bear’s future.

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