The Maryland Department of Natural Resources can offer proof that wild bears don’t live in only the remote mountain areas of the middle Atlantic states, but sometimes show up in spots that more typically are home to commercial crabbers, fishermen and flat-land farmers.
The DNR recently captured and later relocated a young, healthy black bear that had been roaming about the Eastern Shore for half a year. Reports of repeated sightings by local residents in the Centreville area eventually got the DNR’s wildlife specialists interested and, sure enough, they were able to capture and eventually relocate it in Washington County, far to the west of the Chesapeake Bay area it was found in.
But that’s not where the adventure ended. The bear had been nabbed once before, in Mercer County, N.J., in early June of 2008. The original capture took place some 110 miles from Centreville where it was caught again. New Jersey wildlife biologists tagged the bear and even gave him a tattoo inside his lip, then took him to a state wildlife management area. But like all bears, sooner or later the traveling urge strikes.
Bears can quickly cover amazing distances in their search for food or mates. As a friend of ours, who lives in Canadian bear country, once said, “They can travel far and fast because, unlike so many humans, they don’t smoke. Their lungs are clean and healthy. They can get a move on.” It was his way of demonstrating the toughness and ingenuity of the wild animals when they feel like changing locations.
By the way, the New Jersey data found on the bear’s tag provided the Maryland DNR staff helpful information on the history of the animal. The DNR fitted the roving bear with Maryland bear tags and microchips and he was released on public lands in Washington County.
To add to the fact that black bears are great wanderers, there have been bruins sighted in such Washington suburbs as nearby Loudoun and Fairfax counties, no doubt having traveled down the Blue Ridge mountains during times when food or drought forced them to make a move.