AR-News: Maryland plans first bear hunt since 1953
wolfcrest at hotmail.com
Sat Nov 29 22:59:11 EST 2003
Maryland plans first bear hunt since 1953
By David Dishneau
Associated Press Oct. 13, 2003
The state will hold its first black bear hunt since 1953 next fall,
targeting about 30 animals in far Western Maryland, a top wildlife manager
Wildlife advocates, meanwhile, promised a fight in the legislature and
possibly the courts to block what they called a "trophy hunt."
Paul Peditto, director of the Department of Natural Resources' Wildlife and
Heritage Service, said DNR Secretary C. Ronald Franks approved
recommendations from a state task force to allow regulated bear hunting and
permit farmers to shoot crop-damaging bears.
He said the administration probably will ask the General Assembly to end a
novel Black Bear Conservation Stamp program implemented in 1996 that never
has raised enough money to compensate farmers for crop damage.
"We know that we need to add more lethal control to our management
strategies," Peditto said. Regulated hunting is "the most cost-effective and
the most time-efficient means of managing wildlife species such as the black
bear," he said.
Hunting permits would be distributed among applicants by lottery, and
hunters would be encouraged to kill nuisance bears identified by cooperating
landowners and the DNR, Peditto said.
Crop-damage permits would be reserved for "extreme circumstances where all
other methods have failed," he said.
The hunt authorization follows more than a decade of debate over an
increasingly troublesome Maryland bear population that has grown from an
estimated 12 in 1956 to about 400 statewide, concentrated mostly in the
mountains of Allegany and Garrett counties.
Peditto said the hunt, tentatively planned for late September and early
October, would be aimed at reducing the estimated population of 300 bears
west of Cumberland by 10 percent.
Wildlife advocates attacked the plan as a politically motivated "trophy
"Gov. (Robert) Ehrlich has quickly established himself as the worst governor
for animals in Maryland's recent history," said Wayne Pacelle, a senior vice
president of the Washington-based Humane Society of the United States.
Pacelle vowed to "pursue every responsible means" of stopping a bear hunt,
including protective legislation in the General Assembly. He said the DNR's
action lends urgency to such a measure, which failed to pass this year.
Lawyers for The Fund for Animals are considering filing a lawsuit to block a
hunt, said Michael Markarian, president of the Silver Spring-based group.
"We're going to call them out on the carpet and make sure that Maryland
citizens understand this is a trophy hunt," he said. "It's a recreational
opportunity for a handful of people that want bearskin rugs for their living
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