- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 2, 2005

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is proud of the way its annual black bear hunt went. Why that is, I don’t know. It was only the second one since 1953 and an extremely limited one at that.

The DNR shut the hunt down when 40 black bears had been checked in by Western Maryland hunters. However, the state would have been OK with a bear “harvest” of 55.

Don’t you just hate that word harvest? For goodness sakes, you don’t harvest living creatures; you harvest corn and soy beans. Have you ever heard the Marines say they harvested 40 insurgents? No, they killed them.

The hunt started a half-hour before sunrise Monday, Oct. 24 but only in Garrett and Allegany counties. As the check stations closed at 8 p.m. on Thursday, 40 bears had been reported.

Paul Peditto, the DNR’s director of wildlife, said, “Our primary goal is to slow the growth of the regional black bear population; this effort is an unqualified success toward that end and secures the future for responsible scientific management of black bears in Maryland.”

OK, so Peditto is happy and those who bagged a bear are happy, but take a look at how uninvolved the state’s general hunter population was in all this.

Of the 40 bears checked in, 36 were killed in Garrett County and four in Allegany County, with 95 percent of the bears shot on private land. Of the 2,192 Maryland hunters who applied for a special bear permit, how many do you think had permission to hunt on private land? Probably only a few outsiders because 65 percent of those who shot a bear actually lived in the hunt area. Of the lottery-chosen 368 hunters, only a tiny number actually had a chance to see and shoot a bruin on beautiful public hunting lands, such as Dan’s Mountain or Savage River State Forest.

What all this kind of boils down to is a bear hunting program that by and large is taking place on privately owned land to which the average Maryland hunter has no chance of getting invited.

So what’s all the hubbub, bub?

Incidentally, the largest bear was a 379-pound male, shot by Danny Teets of McHenry, in Garrett County. Six of the bears that were checked in had been previously handled by DNR personnel because they wore ear tags identifying them as chronic nuisance bears in Garrett County. This result, says the DNR, demonstrates conclusively that its hunting strategy will achieve the secondary benefit of reducing conflicts between problem bears and Western Maryland residents.

Virginia restricts deer imports — The Virginia Board of Game and Inland Fisheries has passed a regulation that prohibits the importation or possession of whole deer carcasses or parts of carcasses, including finished taxidermy work, coming from other states or any of the Canadian provinces in which chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been found in free-ranging or captive deer. That includes any member of the deer family, including but not limited to whitetailed deer, blacktailed deer, mule deer, fallow, axis and sika deer, elk, moose and caribou. For a complete list of these states and provinces, visit the VDGIF Web site at www.dgif.virginia.gov/hunting/cwd.asp. The prohibition is now in effect.

Rockfish tournament — The Coastal Conservation Association’s Virginia Central Chapter and the Green Top Sporting Goods store have joined forces to make their annual Benefit Rockfish Tournament on the Chesapeake Bay a huge success. It happens Dec. 3 (registration and captains meeting Dec. 2) out of Norview Marina in Deltaville (lower Rappahannock River). All of this striper tournament’s proceeds go to support the CCA’s efforts to conserve and help restore Virginia’s marine fisheries.

The competition is limited to 200 boats. Each boat must pay a $250 entry fee. There will be cash prizes from first through 10th place, as well as prizes in the youth, ladies and senior division. If a Virginia state record rockfish is caught, the angler will receive $100,000.

The Green Top sporting goods people are asking for corporate entries that would require a $500 entry fee and would have a separate prize package. For entry forms and more information, go to ccavirginia.org or call 804/346-1926.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com

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