Bear harvest down 74 percent in Allegany County

For Allegany Playground

Hunters harvested 54 black bears during Maryland’s 18th annual black bear hunt. Official results have been compiled and reported by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources following the five-day hunt held Oct. 25 to Oct. 29 in Allegany, Frederick, Garrett, and Washington counties.

Abundant natural food in the mountains of Western Maryland slowed bear movements, and warm and sometimes wet weather conditions made hunting difficult. Hunters harvested 34 female and 20 male bears under these less-than-ideal conditions.

The harvest was down 74 percent from 2020, when 117 bears were taken from Maryland’s four westernmost counties — including 23 in Allegany County and 83 in Garrett County.

“Mother Nature proved challenging this year for our bear hunters,” Wildlife and Heritage Service Director Paul Peditto said in a news release. “Although the harvest was lower than normal, it is encouraging to see the healthy harvest in Frederick and Washington counties, where the bear population continues to grow.”

The state’s bear populated dropped to only a few in the 1950s after calling much of the state home since European settlement.

Currently, Maryland has a breeding population of black bears in the four westernmost counties (Garrett, Allegany, Washington, and Frederick). Although evidence of a breeding population is confined to those western counties, the Department receives several sightings and complaints in central and southern counties each year.

There are more than 2,000 adult and subadult black bears roaming the occupied counties of Maryland (Garrett, Allegany, Washington, and Frederick Counties) with sightings common throughout much of the state. Counties are considered to be occupied if a breeding population is documented.

2021 Maryland Black Bear Hunt by the Numbers:

  • 54 black bears were harvested: 6 from Allegany County, 5 from Frederick County, 33 from Garrett County, and 10 from Washington County
  • 146 pounds is the average weight of bears harvested
  • The heaviest bear weighed 362 pounds and was taken in Washington County
  • 63% of bears were taken on private land
  • 4,716 hunters applied for a permit
  • 950 permits were awarded.

Although Maryland biologists have researched and estimated the population size it is important to understand that the population of black bears is in a constant state of flux due to the large home range of these mammals and to their seasonal movements. In January and February, female black bears (sows) give birth in their dens every other year. Although the cubs are capable of independence within six months (by June), the family group often will stay together until the sow is ready to breed again the following year in June.

The young bears can travel great distances to find new territory and easy food sources. As a result, there are notable increases in bear/vehicle collisions and human/bear conflicts during this juvenile dispersal period in May through July.

Black bears have adapted to scarce winter food supplies by hibernating during winter months and will consume a great deal of calories to prepare for hibernation. Because of this activity, there is another peak in black bear movement in October and November.

Filed in: Latest Headlines, Outdoors

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