Bear management in W. Md. discussed

February 17, 1991|By Peter Baker

Earlier this month, members of Maryland Forest, Park and Wildlife Service met with biologists from Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New Jersey and Virginia to discuss the development of a black bear management plan for Maryland.

While the Maryland plan is in the early stages of development, Mark Hoffman of the FPWS said there apparently are enough black bears in Western Maryland to make a management plan necessary and a hunting season a possibility in 1992-93.

"We are working on a management plan, but it is still in draft form," Hoffman said. "This summer, we will be seeking public input on the plan. In addition, we will include in the regulations an option that the management plan be included in the March 1992 discussions for a limited season."

Hoffman said that at this point, the FPWS does not have the necessary information to endorse a limited season. "We're not committing to it or advocating it," Hoffman said. "But there are some real-life problems to be dealt with, including crop damage, livestock depredation and that the bear is potentially frightful to live around."

Over the past year, the FPWS has conducted a series of public meetings on black bears in Maryland to solicit issues, goals and objectives from the public. The management plan is expected to be presented to the public this summer.

Three options apparently will be:

* Increased public education to increase understanding and tolerance of bear.

* Refinement of procedures for handling and addressing nuisance bear complaints.

L * Establishment of a regulated harvest of bear in the state.

"A lot of what we come up with will depend on how the public responds -- whether the public is in favor of a [hunting] season," Hoffman said.

The FPWS met with bear biologists from surrounding states in an effort to meet the highest standards of species management in the region.

Maryland did not have a season for black bear last year.

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