AR-News: (US-MD) Bear Hunt Costs Agency Donation

Michael Markarian mike at
Sat Apr 24 09:44:37 EDT 2004

                Copyright 2004 News World Communications, Inc.
                              The Washington Times

                     April 23, 2004, Friday, Final Edition


LENGTH: 604 words

HEADLINE: Bear hunt costs agency donation;
Activists offered Maryland money to stop kill off



   Animal rights groups say they will not donate $75,000 to Maryland's
Department of Natural Resources because the agency has rejected their condition
of calling off a bear hunt.

   The activists offered the money last week and the agency accepted it, but
rejected the stipulation to cancel the bear-hunting season in October for
Allegany and Garrett counties. The increasing number of black bears in the
region have been raiding trash cans and bird feeders and scaring homeowners.

   The agency's announcement infuriated the animal rights groups Fund for
Animals and the Humane Society of the United States, and sportsmen who don't
want wildlife authorities to become beholden to activists.

   "Our offer was very clearly tied to the fact that there would be no bear
hunt," said Michael Markarian, president of Fund for Animals, a national
organization dedicated to protecting wildlife.

   "They understand us. They are just playing games."

   He said the upcoming bear season was merely a "trophy hunt" to put bearskin
rugs on the floors of hunters' homes, a charge Maryland wildlife officials have

   Mr. Markarian said the cash offer still stands if hunting is removed from the
state's wildlife management plan.

   The hunt, which will be the state's first since 1953, will permit sportsmen
to kill 30 black bears in the mountains of Western Maryland, where an estimated
500 black bears live.

   John H. Josselyn, an avid deer hunter and legislative vice president of the
Associated Gun Clubs of Baltimore Inc., said the state agency should never
accept money from animal rights groups because it taints the science of wildlife

   "The Humane Society and the Fund for Animals are people driven by emotion and
not by science," he said. "DNR has a commitment to wildlife management based on
science. If it were my decision, I would be forced to decline their offer in
order to avoid even the hint of impropriety."

   Mr. Josselyn said the association takes no position on the hunt and his
comments reflected only his personal opinion.

   Tim J. Endres, a hunting enthusiast who works at Bas Pro Shops Outdoor World
at Arundel Mills mall, said the agency should not even consider including
activists in the policy-making process.

   "I object to any organization telling somebody else how to do their business,
" he said.

   Wildlife officials said there was nothing wrong with taking money from animal
rights organizations, as long as the gift did not influence the way they craft

   However, Paul A. Peditto, the state's director of wildlife and heritage
services, said the activists' offer was not a "serious" proposal and that the
very premise was insulting.

   "It is disingenuous to suggest that the opinions of our scientists can be
bought off by the highest bidder," he said.

   Mr. Peditto said the agency would have used the $75,000 as the animal rights
groups had suggested, including compensating farmers for the damage bears cause
to crops.

   "We agree with them on the need to use non-lethal strategies," Mr. Peditto
said. "We just disagree on one issue, whether hunting should be part of this
integrated management plan."

   Wildlife officials estimate that over the last decade the black bear
population has grown from 14,000 to about 40,000 in the Appalachian region,
which includes Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

   "That's 174 percent increase in 10 years," Mr. Peditto said. "We are one of
the only states in the country that doesn't have hunting as part of its bear
management model for black bears and the only one in the Northeast."

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