- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 1, 2006

When the Maryland Department of Natural Resources closed its much ballyhooed bear hunting season only two days after it began Oct. 23, hunters in the state’s two westernmost counties brought 41 black bears to official game check stations.

Wildlife officials said they expected “harvest” results of 35 to 55 bears and the objective was met. I continue to be confused about the word “harvest” because I’ve always been under the impression that corn, potatoes and soya beans are harvested. But bears and other game are shot and killed — certainly not harvested. There’s nothing wrong with the word “killed.” Don’t be afraid to use it, DNR. Don’t be so sensitive and invent new descriptive phrases.

Be that as it may, 39 of the 41 bruins that were shot came from Garrett County. Two came from neighboring Allegany County. The biggest was a 464-pound male from Garrett, shot by Bill Corbin of Oakland, Md. The average weight of the bears, however, was a little more than 160 pounds.

Here’s the kicker: 78 percent of the bears were bagged on private land, and 63 percent of the successful hunters live in the hunt area. Of the 2,402 hunters who applied for a bear permit, 451 were chosen, and less than 10 percent of those saw a bear they could shoot.

So let’s be sensible. If you hoped to shoot a bear during the two-day “season” and you relied on public lands to do it, your chances of getting a permit were poor to begin with and your chances of seeing a bear on public land were even poorer.

It appears Maryland’s bear “hunt” is more an outing for the privileged few who have permission to hunt on private land in Garrett County. The rest might as well say, “Wait until next year or the one after that or the one after that …”

Well, you get the drift.

New Jersey says no to bear hunt — While Maryland’s bear hunt was only lukewarm, New Jersey’s promised hunt is vanishing because Gov. Jon Corzine wants to cancel the 2006 black bear season. He has made it known he will refuse to sign the state’s hunting and fishing regulations, which will stop the bear hunt.

Gov. Corzine is a staunch opponent of the state’s bear season, says the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, a national watchdog group that promotes legitimate hunting. For now, the governor refuses to approve a routine five-year renewal of state fish and wildlife laws through 2009 because an annual bear hunt was included. This year’s bear season in New Jersey was scheduled to begin Dec. 4.

Menhaden caps approved — The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), through its Atlantic Menhaden Management Board, has approved Addendum III to Amendment I to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Menhaden. All this sounds very bureaucratic, but it boils down to the ASMFC approving a five-year annual commercial netting cap of 109,020 tons of the critically needed fish.

This already generous allotment also includes a provision giving the netters a little makeup fishing chance. If they didn’t reach the 109,020 tons, they can catch up the following year but not exceed 122,740 metric tons.

Imagine, 122,740 metric tons. I’ll wager the reduction fishery industry at this moment is smiling like the Cheshire cat.

For shame, ASFMC.

Winter striper seminar — The Coastal Conservation Association of Southern Maryland will play host to a winter striper fishing seminar featuring Chesapeake Bay charter captain and light tackle specialist “Walleye” Pete Dahlberg on Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. at Hughesville American Legion Hall. The public is invited.

Dahlberg will discuss the ample winter rockfish possibilities at the mouth of the bay along the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. His presentation will include when, where and how to catch huge striped bass during their annual East Coast migration. Information on ramps, guides, lodging and restaurants also will be available. Information: Dennis Fleming 240/538-1260.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected]washingtontimes.com.

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