October 2, 2023

Once Again Maryland Opens For Bear Hunting

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In 1972 the black bear in Maryland was listed as endangered. Officials then believed the bear population to be around 12 animals and has since grown to somewhere between 350 and 500 animals, depending on whether counters want to include cubs or not.

In 2004, bear hunting resumed. A limited number of permits were issued hunters and that year 20 bears were taken. The following year twice that number. On Monday, the third consecutive year of bear hunting opened in Allegany, Garrett and Washington Counties. The season will be split in two sessions. The first running until this Saturday. Officials will conduct an evaluation and if quotas aren’t met, then a second season will run from Dec. 4 – 9.

As we have all come to expect, the hunt doesn’t come with a certain amount of controversy. Animal rights activists are out doing what they can to stop the hunt and one group called the Humane Society Legislative Fund has gone so far as to run ads on television and create a campaign against Governor Bob Ehrlich, who is up for reelection.

“Bob Ehrlich is an enemy of animal welfare, and is simply out of step with Maryland’s humane values,” said Michael Markarian, president of Humane Society Legislative Fund. “His personal actions and his absolute fealty to the trophy hunting lobby resulted in dozens of bears being killed for trophies and bearskin rugs—including the first bear killed legally in Maryland in more than half a century, an 84-pound, 10-month-old, female bear cub.”

Notice the play on emotions. They got all the right keywords in there to stir as much emotion as they could. Would have made a difference if the cub was a male?

But like with any campaign by animal rights groups, this one is no different in spewing out lies and misinformation.

“There’s no purpose for shooting them,” said Markarian

HSLF says that bear problems can be solved with simple, non-lethal solutions like pepper sprays and bear-proof refuse bins. The DNR also captures and relocates, and has the authority to euthanize, problem bears. Markarian added, “Of the 40 bears killed in the last hunting season, the DNR determined that only six were nuisance bears. That means the other 34 posed no threat to western Maryland garbage cans or birdfeeders. A bear hunt is no more likely to reduce conflicts with bears than randomly shooting people on the street cuts down on urban crime.”

When groups like this one begin talking, they generally reveal what their true agenda is. They want us to believe they are interested in the protection of animals but that is not their first objective and in some cases it doesn’t apply at all.

The statement above shows this in that the groups says there is no reason to shoot these animals yet they use as an argument against shooting that the DNR can euthanize any nuisance bears. Is it now more humane for DNR to put a bear through hell by capturing it and then killing it, than a hunter making a quick clean kill, all to accomplish the same end?

The logic used in forming their statements is absurd at best. When stating that only 6 of the 40 bears killed last year had been tagged as nuisance bears only shows their real ignorance. Although the reasons for conducting a bear hunt are numerous, one of the reasons is the reduction of bear populations in order to provide a healthier species and at the same time reduce or eliminate bear and human conflicts. If they cared about the bears, they would see that it is much more inhumane for DNR to keep capturing, drugging, tagging and releasing nuisances bears. It needs to be stopped before that happens.

And tell me what kind of a statement is this? “A bear hunt is no more likely to reduce conflicts with bears than randomly shooting people on the street cuts down on urban crime.” Is there supposed to be a hidden message here or is this just plain and utter nonsense coming from groups who function on emotional irrationality?

Why animal rights groups continue to tell their lies to the public is beyond me. It is a well known fact that wildlife scientists use hunting as the best tried and proven means of maintaining a healthy and prosperous game population. This includes population controls. If we used animal rights’ logic, there should be no restrictions on how many bears we can shoot. They say that when bears are hunted, they will produce more bears to make up for the shortfall. What is interesting is the hypocrisy and double standards that have become a common theme with these people.

The DNR defends its use of hunting as an affective management tool.

Getting rid of nuisance bears is only one goal of the hunts, which were only reinstated after public education about putting garbage and pet food away failed to reduce the number of human-bear interactions, said DNR Assistant Secretary Michael Slattery.

“Bears, without regulated hunting, become accustomed to human presence, grow bolder and bolder, so we have to [hunt] to slow the rate of population growth,” he said. “We love having bears, we don’t want to reverse [their numbers], we just want to slow the rate of growth.”

Wildlife scientists have made this same basic statement for years, yet these activists don’t want to accept science over emotion. Slattery then went on to reveal more hypocrisy.

He criticized bear hunt detractors for “trusting us before with resource management and now all of a sudden … we don’t know what we are doing.”

There’s certainly a lot of truth in that statement.

Good luck to all the Maryland bear hunters this week. Many people are thankful for the efforts you put in to help keep the bear population in check. George Shifflett is one such landowner.

“There are way too many bears up here. I’ve videotaped seven different ones in an hour,” he said, watching state wildlife biologists weigh and measure the kill. “There’s one that makes this one look like a baby – 5 1/2 [550 to] 600 pounds – that keeps tearing our apple trees down.”

Tom Remington