Sport Killing of Maryland’s Black Bears

After hunters killed practically all of Maryland’s black bears, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) closed bear hunting season in the early 1950s, and placed our state’s black bears on the endangered species list in 1972.  Today, our bears are being killed once again.

A small population of black bears rebounded in Western Maryland, and they are now being killed for sport and recreation again, thanks to Governor Robert Ehrlich and Governor Martin O’Malley.  Here’s what happened and how you can help stop it!

  • In 2004 when Governor Robert Ehrlich ignored a 12-7 vote of the Maryland Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review committee’s decision against reopening bear hunting season.  Instead, Ehrlich accepted DNR’s recommendation to open up a black bear hunting season.  This pleased a small group of hunters bent on killing our bears with guns, and bows and arrows as recreational sporting activity.
  • The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has yet to produce any scientific evidence supporting a need for holding these generalized bear hunts.  Instead, virtually all of the written documentation points to requests by hunting lobby groups such as the Maryland Sportsmen’s Association and others, asking DNR for a bear hunting season.
  • Over pleas from local animal welfare supporters, letters, television messages, rallies, public debate, and requests by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Governor Martin O’Malley continued to allow bear hunting.  Another bear hunt is scheduled again for this fall.
  • DNR refused a $75,000 offer from HSUS to pay farmers for alleged crop damage caused by black bears in return for not opening bear hunting season.
  • So far, hundreds of Maryland’s bears have been needlessly and randomly killed, including 18 cubs weighing only 54 to 97 pounds.
  • Bear hunting in Maryland represents a classic example of how the less than 2% of Marylanders who hunt, have a stranglehold on DNR policies and philosophy about wildlife management in our state.
  • Time for change is long overdue. Over 98% of Marylanders do not hunt.

We must work together to save Maryland’s Black Bears!