CUMBERLAND, Md. (WJZ) — It’s Maryland’s version of big game and Monday evening, it’s open season on black bears.
Alex DeMetrick reports despite initial concerns the bear population would suffer, numbers are high enough to allow a seventh straight year of hunting.
Pickup trucks back into the state check-in station in Garrett County. Here, biologists can collect samples from black bears killed by hunters.
For DNR, it’s a chance for research, and for hunters, it’s a unique experience.
“I was kind of nervous,” said Logan Psass, 14-year-old hunter. “I wasn’t sure if I hit it when it was running but then it went down and I was excited about it.”
Hunters first went into the woods for bears seven years ago, the first such hunt in half a century. Since then, 343 bears have been killed.
“We’ve got an excess of 600 adult and sub-adult bears,” said Harry Spiker, DNR bear project leader
In western Maryland, contacts between people and bears are ongoing. Between 40 and 50 bears are killed on roads each year and on farms, crop damage continues to be a problem.
“Rolling in the corn, flattening it down. You can tell where a bear has been eating because they like to lie down and eat,” said John Brewer.
While this hunt is only in a few counties, bears are increasing in number and are on the move.
“Every year, we have bear sightings throughout central Maryland,” Spiker said. “When you throw those encounters in large metropolitan areas, it’s harder to manage those situations.”
This year’s hunt is expected to last only a few days with a quota set between 55 and 80 bears.