ANNAPOLIS – Hunters with their sights set on black bears have until Tuesday to apply to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources for a permit, before the first such hunt in 51 years begins in late October.
The DNR, which has received more than 1,350 applications for only 200 permits since it began accepting them a week ago, will hold a drawing Sept. 22 to determine the permit recipients.
“I think that the vast majority of the members of the public who followed this issue, whether they hunt or not, realize we need to do something to check our growing bear population,” said Paul Peditto, director of the DNR’s Wildlife and Heritage Service.
The animals have been cited as a mounting nuisance by residents of Western Maryland. Peditto said he actually expected more people to apply than the DNR has seen thus far.
Applicants may enter the drawing by calling 1-888-579-6768 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. weekdays or going online to blackbear.dnr.state.md.us/. The fee is $15, payable by check, money order or credit card.
Each permit is valid for one bear, but the hunt will conclude once 30 bears are bagged. One-hundred and forty permits have been allotted for private land, while the remaining 60 will be valid for public and private land.
The hunt, scheduled for the last week in October and the second week in December if needed, has met sharp opposition from the Humane Society of the United States and the Fund for Animals.
Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich in late August ignored a legislative committee’s opposition to the hunt.
Having rebounded from near extinction in the 1950s, Maryland’s black bears total about 400 and have become a problem for homeowners. Last year, more than 35 bears were hit by automobiles, and many were responsible for complaints to the DNR’s black bear response team.