Black Bear Management Plan 2004 Ė 2013
Marylandís black bear population has rebounded from historical lows in the mid 20th Century. Today, bears are found in the western 4 counties, with the highest population density found in Garrett and western Allegany counties. This recovery is attributed to the improved habitat quality in western Maryland, and bear conservation actions imposed by Maryland and our neighboring states of Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.
Marylandís first 10-year black bear management plan was implemented in 1992. Much has happened since that plan was instituted. Bear numbers have increased and bears have spread eastward into previously unoccupied parts of Maryland. Nuisance problems have increased, and public attitudes toward bears continue to evolve as human-bear interactions increase. Research activities have been expanded, and new techniques have been developed to assist DNR agencies with managing nuisance bear activity (Appendix A).
DNR has traditionally managed Marylandís black bear population in a conservative manner. Hunting of bears has been prohibited since 1953. Nuisance resolution has taken many forms over the years, from actively trapping and moving problem bears, to implementing aversive conditioning techniques. As the 1992 management plan came to an end, it was evident that additional planning was paramount to managing this unique resource into the 21st Century.
In 2002, DNR formed a Black Bear Task Force (BBTF) to review DNRís 1992 Black Bear Management Plan and to provide guidance in developing DNRís next black bear management plan. The BBTF, comprised of citizens from across Maryland, met until early in 2003 while it studied bear issues in the state and solicited input from the public regarding bear management (Appendix B). In February 2003, the BBTF submitted its final report and recommendations to DNR (Appendix C). Many of the BBTF recommendations have been incorporated into this management plan. Although the Task Force was comprised of people with varied interests and views regarding bears, they all agreed that black bears are a valued part of Marylandís ecosystem and that another 10-year management plan was important to the welfare of this truly charismatic species.
A primary objective of this plan is to maintain Marylandís black bear population at a level compatible with land use goals and acceptable social limits. Therefore, DNR must continue to gauge public sentiment regarding black bears and black bear management. In Spring 2004, DNR contracted with an independent research firm to conduct a statewide public opinion survey of Maryland residentsí attitudes towards black bears and black bear management. Respondents were asked questions about their contacts and experiences with black bears, attitudes toward black bears, strategies to avoid black bear nuisance behavior, and their opinions of various population management tools.
This management plan reviews DNRís past black bear management efforts, state and regional black bear population trends, and current management techniques. Additionally, the plan lists black bear management goals and objectives, along with offering strategies to attain the desired outcomes. The plan will guide the management of Marylandís black bear resource based on scientific principles and in consideration of informed public input through December 2013.
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Public Attitudes Toward Black Bear Management in Maryland