On January 23rd, the Maryland Black Bear Task Force, after reviewing more than 500 comments from Maryland citizens who oppose bear hunting by a 5-1 margin, narrowly voted to ignore public sentiment and recommend the first bear hunting season in 50 years.
"The Task Force has thumbed its nose at Maryland citizens–more than 80% of whom voiced their opposition to a bear hunting season," said Michael Markarian, President of The Fund for Animals. "We hope that Governor Ehrlich and the Department of Natural Resources will respect the will of the people and continue the 50 year tradition of black bear protection in Maryland."
Maryland's black bear population, estimated at 266 to 437 bears, has come back from the brink of extinction. The task force was provided with scientific data on black bears but has not produced a comprehensive analysis of black bear habitat needs or the impact that a hunt would have on the bear population and non-target species. "There was never any information suggesting that hunting bears would reduce bear/human conflicts," said Markarian. "In fact, hunting bears for sport would most likely make those problems worse."
The Fund for Animals suggested expanding public education efforts on implementing non-lethal methods to humanely prevent or resolve human/bear conflicts in the state.
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