Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Black bear brouhaha

After a lot of protesting and politicking, Maryland’s black bear hunting season ended much more quietly than it started.

The hunt ran from Monday, Oct. 22, to Thursday, Oct. 25, with 51 bears killed. Our Department of Natural Resources had a target of between 50 and 70 bears, with 59 percent of the successful hunters living in the hunt area of Garrett and Allegany counties.

DNR opened up Maryland’s first bear-hunting season in 2004 after 51 years. This year, 2,804 hunters put their name in the lottery for a permit, with 452 getting to participate. Doesn’t exactly sound like a free-for-all bloodbath to me.

All these numbers may seem cold and meaningless to those groups who vehemently campaigned against the hunt, but I would be curious to see how many of those upset with the hunt actually live in the western counties where the bear population is centered. Also, if the DNR couldn’t use a well-managed hunting program to control the population, what other methods could they use for a species that has bounced back in recent years?

The DNR is not the NRA, and it would seem to me that the biologists in the field have a better understanding of the issue than those on their soapbox several counties away.

-FRANCIS SMITH, Special Publications Assistant Editor

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