Bear management plan in the works

OUTDOORS

February 20, 1991|By PETER BAKER

Although the nearest concentration of trophy black bear is in north-central Pennsylvania, Western Maryland still holds a population of the species -- apparently enough that a black bear management plan is being developed by the Department of Natural Resources.

Earlier this month, members of the DNR's Forest, Park and Wildlife Service met with biologists from Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New Jersey and Virginia to discuss the development of such a plan.

While the Maryland plan is in the early stages, 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.

* 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.

*

On Saturday, the Maryland Chapter of Trout Unlimited will hold its Jones Falls stream walk to record sediment, pollution and development problems along the stream and its tributaries.

No special expertise is required to join with volunteers from MDTU, Save Our Streams and the Irvine Natural Science Center. The inexperienced will be teamed with other volunteers. The survey will begin at 9 a.m. on Park Heights Avenue, one-quarter mile south of Greenspring Avenue.

For more information, call Allan Dale (653-2917) or Dennis LaBare (922-7476).

*

The Department of Natural Resources has announced regulations to govern the use of personal watercraft on all state waters. The regulations, which took effect Monday, are:

* Personal watercraft may not be operated faster than 6 knots when within 100 feet of a vessel, shore, wharf, pier, piling, bridge structure or people in the water. In Maryland ocean waters, operation is restricted to 300 feet from people in the water or surf fishermen.

* Night operation and towing skiers is prohibited.

* Personal flotation devices must be worn.

* Operators must be at least 14 years old.

* Cutoff switches or self-circling devices must be operational.

* Jumping wakes will be considered negligent operation.

*

This spring, when you come upon a helpless baby bird on the ground below its nest, leave it alone unless you can safely return it to the nest. It may sound cruel, but there are times when it is best not to mess with mother nature.

Birds that are reared by humans become dependent on human assistance and usually cannot survive in the wild.

It also is against federal law for unlicensed persons to pick up or capture wild birds -- dead, injured or orphaned.

If you come upon an orphaned or injured bird, call the nearest nature center or wildlife refuge to alert them of the animal's plight.

*

Adam Werblow, coach of the St. Mary's College sailing team, qualified for the 1991 U.S. Olympic sailing team by placing second overall in the Flying Dutchman Mid-Winter Championships and third in the Can-Am Regatta in Miami last month. Werblow and crew Joe Thompson are ranked as the No. 2 Flying Dutchman team on the U.S. squad.

*

Legislation has been introduced to the General Assembly that would rename and protect the Black Marsh property owned by the Department of Natural Resources near Edgemere, Millers Island and Fort Howard in Baltimore County.

The legislation seeks to have the 1,310-acre waterfront tract renamed North Point State Park, within which a 667-acre tract of sensitive marsh and woodland would be designated Black Marsh Wildland.

Citing a responsibility on the part of the state to give "permanent protection" to the sensitive areas of the acreage, DNR secretary Torrey C. Brown said, "In addition, we have a unique opportunity, and responsibility, to assure public access to the Chesapeake Bay for appropriate cultural and recreational activities."

The state park would ensure a buffer zone around the 150 acres of marsh that already is classified as a state Natural Heritage Area.

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