Reporting Alex DeMetrick
BALTIMORE (WJZ)–This past spring, black bears were spotted roaming in Carroll County. That might have surprised some, but not state biologists who count bears.
Alex DeMetrick reports in seven years, bear numbers have doubled in Maryland.
It takes tranquilizers and tracking to count black bears.
Late winter in Maryland biologists go into dens counting females and their cubs.
“We’re averaging three cubs per sow, and that’s nearly twice the rate they get in some of the less fertile parts of the country,” said Paul Peditto, DNR Wildlife Heritage.
In 2005, there were 362 bears in Garrett and Allegany counties. This year that number is estimated at 782. And in other counties there are at least 100 more bears.
“Our expectation is that we would slowly grow the population without stunting it, and that’s exactly where we are today,” Peditto said.
Preserving Habitat helped bring the bears back from near extinction in Maryland 50 years ago.
And as population grows, so does the bear’s range. Just this spring people in Carroll County photographed a young male roaming through.
“Every year we have sightings throughout central Maryland, including Baltimore, Harford, Howard and Montgomery counties. When you carry those encounters into large metro areas, it’s more difficult to manage those situations,” said Harry Spiker, DNR biologist.
As the numbers of black bears increase, the number to be hunted will also go up.
“We’re going to raise the number of bear hunter’s eligible for the hunt. We’re not trying to wipe them out or stunt the population,” Peditto said.
But they want to keep the numbers growing slowly enough to give bears and people room.
Biologists give people in western Maryland a lot of credit for the resurgence, whose tolerance and knowledge of bear behavior have kept bad encounters to a minimum.