- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 26, 2006

HAGERSTOWN, Md. — Hunters killed at least 41 black bears in the Western Maryland mountains during a two-day hunt in near-perfect conditions, the state’s top game manager said.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced an end to the season late Tuesday after hunters had checked in enough bears by 8 p.m. to satisfy the agency’s objective of 35 to 55.

Had the quota not been met, the hunt could have continued for up to four more days.

The results were unofficial since bears taken Tuesday could be checked in legally through 8 p.m. yesterday.

The season’s first winter storm blanketed much of far western Garrett County with up to three inches of snow Monday and Tuesday, helping hunters spot their prey, said Paul Peditto, director of the DNR’s Wildlife and Heritage Division.

“Snow for tracking bears or seeing bears against that white backdrop, particularly given that a fair amount of leaf cover has come off in Western Maryland, makes for nearly ideal conditions for hunting,” Mr. Peditto said.

The attractive conditions in Garrett County helped explain why just two bears were reported to have been taken in neighboring Allegany, Mr. Peditto said.

For the first time in 54 years, hunting was permitted in all of Allegany County, including the 44,000-acre Green Ridge State Forest.

“We know we have bears in Green Ridge and we expected to have some checked in from there, but conditions were ideal in Garrett County and we suspect hunters moved there,” Mr. Peditto said.

The largest bear killed was a 464-pound male taken by William Corbin of Oakland, according to the DNR.

The agency said that 451 hunters participated in the hunt. Permit holders were chosen by lottery from 2,402 applicants.

For the second straight year, about 50 hunters voluntarily carried Global Positioning System devices that recorded their geographical movements, Mr. Peditto said.

About a dozen previously captured-and-released bears also wore GPS units on collars as part of a scientific study of how the animals respond to hunting pressure.

The Natural Resources Police said that two Jessup men — Kendall T. Hayden, 51, and Frederick C. Wieland Jr., 42, were charged with baiting bears after officers found them hunting Monday from a tree stand over a large pile of cookies and cakes.

Hunting bear over bait is prohibited in Maryland and punishable by a fine of up to $1,500 for a first offense.

Annual bear hunts returned to Maryland in 2004 after a 51-year ban.

The DNR says hunting helps control the black bear population, which the agency estimated in June at 650 statewide, including 550 in the hunt zone.

The Humane Society of the United States, which opposes trophy hunts, announced a new campaign this week through its legislative fund to fight the re-election of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican whom the group blames for restoring bear hunting in Maryland.


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