Black Bear Task Force
Report and Recommendations
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources
March 28, 2003
Goals and Strategies for inclusion in Maryland's Black Bear Management
Plan for 2003
1 - Population Viability:
ensure the long-term viability of the black bear population in Maryland
through comprehensive research, monitoring, management, education, and
2 - Maximizing Cultural Carrying Capacity (CCC):
maintain black bear populations throughout Maryland at the maximum CCC
level. CCC can fluctuate and is not a static value. (Note: The public
attitude survey will be a key consideration in determining CCC).
is the maximum number of bears in an area that is acceptable to the
human population. The CCC is a function of the human tolerance to bears
and the benefits people derive from bears. It is different for each
constituency, location, and point in time. Development of bear
population management objectives to meet the CCC are subjective and
involve a combination of social, economic, political, and biological
perspectives. " (VDGIF 2002)
goal of maintaining or achieving long-term population viability in
Maryland should be prioritized even when CCC is exceeded. "Minimum
viable bear population levels may exceed CCC objectives, especially in
areas with high human densities. In these situations, long-term
viability of bears may depend on recognizing potential human-bear
problems. Increased knowledge and better understanding of bears could
lead to increased public tolerance of bears (i.e. raise CCC nearer to
the minimum viable population level.). " (VDGIF 2002)
by periodic survey and other means the CCC for black bears for each
an Integrated Wildlife Damage Management approach in meeting CCC.
This would include a systematic and comprehensive approach to
identify and determine the nature and severity of damage and
prioritize solutions on a scale of least to most invasive or
injurious to the animal causing damage.
3 - Habitat Conservation and Management:
conserve black bear habitat in Maryland, consistent with bear population
objectives and with emphasis on areas of special significance.
progressive programs that identify and protect bear habitat.
a Black Bear Habitat Conservation plan in partnership with county
governments with a goal of preserving, protecting, and conserving
outdoor recreational demands that negatively impact bear habitat,
and implement strategies to mitigate these impacts.
4- Human-Bear Conflicts:
promote human safety, protect agricultural income, protect personal
property, and address conflicts between humans and bears in such a way
that maximizes CCC.
a comprehensive black bear management plan that identifies
information and monitoring needs and establishes conflict resolution
strategies to ensure that a prioritized progression from non-lethal
to lethal approaches are mandated. Hunting should be considered only
after an acceptable plan that establishes and documents its need as
a wildlife management tool to attain CCC.
black bear education and information programs within the DNR, and to
continue an aggressive public education campaign to educate the
public on black bear life history, habitat, and bear behavior. DNR
needs to remain vigilant in teaching residents and tourists what
they can do to minimize conflicts with bears. This information
should be disseminated in the school systems and at highway rest
areas, billboards, flyers to be handed out at State Parks, signs at
campsites, via public service announcements, etc.
training programs for public agencies that are first responders to
situations involving people and bears, e.g. training in aversive
local governments to enact ordinances to mandate or provide
incentives for the use of bear-proof trash containers in residential
areas, developments, and tourist areas where bears have become
acclimated to trash as a food source.
procedures under which individual problem bears are handled. These
procedures should categorize bear behavior into that which requires
no action to that warranting destruction of an individual. These
procedures may include non-transferable permits to individuals
experiencing ongoing and intolerable damage to kill individual
offending animals in the most humane manner possible.
to respond in a timely manner to nuisance bear complaints, and
maintain a database to ascertain any trends that may be developing.
DNR needs to revamp its reporting and record keeping relative to
reported bear complaints and make this information readily available
to the public.
DNR to work with public safety agencies to develop an emergency plan
to be implemented in the extremely rare event of a black bear attack
on a human. Personnel who are first responders to these situations
need to be adequately trained and have the proper equipment to
dispatch a bear.
DNR to include in its messages that bears are wild and their
behavior is unpredictable. Although extremely rare, attacks on
humans have occurred in North America, and bears are capable of
inflicting serious injuries and death. Guidelines should be
published that advise the public to treat bear encounters with
5 - Bear Hunting:
include black bear hunting in an Integrated Wildlife Damage Management
Approach to reduce human-bear conflicts and as a means to attain CCC.
"Regulated Hunting" to target nuisance bears and to
achieve and maintain the desired population objective i.e. CCC.
Adjustments to length and timing of season and methods of take will
be used to manipulate the magnitude, sex composition, and age
composition of the harvest.
systematic monitoring of the bear population for regional abundances
and sex and age composition to evaluate the impacts of a hunting
program on the desired population objective i.e. CCC.
6 - Ethics of Bear Hunting Methods:
ensure that black bear hunting methods in Maryland are fair and
sportsmanlike and conform to the ethics of "fairchase."
7 - Landowner and Citizen Conflicts with Bear Hunting:
ensure that bear hunting activities are consistent with and respect the
rights of private property owners and other Maryland citizens.
8 - Non-hunting Recreation:
provide opportunities for non-hunting recreation associated with bears
in Maryland with a focus on information and education designed to
minimize negative human-bear interactions.
9 - Public Values:
consider public values when implementing various bear management
the perceptions, desires, and attitudes of people in Maryland concerning
black bears and to enable the public to provide input on the bear
management program. Public understanding and support are imperative for
an effective management plan.
10 - Animal Welfare:
ensure that all aspects of Maryland's bear management program are
conducted in a humane manner.
the humane treatment of bears in all aspects of black bear
all reports of inhumane activities regarding bears and prosecute.
and equip Law Enforcement Officers to euthanize injured bears.
11 - Funding the Bear Management Program:
provide funding mechanisms to support the attainment of black bear
management goals and objectives.
revenue from bear hunting licenses and permits, etc. as a funding
source for the bear management program. If a bear hunting program is
initiated, the task force recommends that the State of Maryland no
longer provide monetary compensation to landowners for bear damage.
the event that a bear hunting program is not initiated, the Task
Force recommends that the State of Maryland provides 100%
compensation for eligible bear damage claims. The Task Force
suggests that DNR request a $50,000 annual appropriation from the
General Assembly as a source of funding for bear damage
the event that a bear hunting program is not initiated, the Task
Force encourages the General Assembly to pass legislation to
discontinue the sale of Black Bear Conservation Stamps as a
revenue-generating program for the bear damage compensation program.
The current investment in this program (time, energy, manpower and
materials) is greater than the revenue generated.
General Assembly should authorize new avenues of funding that would
be directed to the DNR for the purpose of black bear management,
research, education, habitat protection, and conflict resolution.
license revenues and federal excise taxes on sporting arms and
ammunition provide the primary funding source for wildlife
management in Maryland. In the event that a regulated bear hunting
program is not initiated, DNR should change the classification of
the black bear from a "Game" to a "Non-game"
species. At the same time hunting license revenues should no longer
be used as the primary funding source for bear management.
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