Maryland Governor Ehrlich Encourages Bear Hunt
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Maryland Governor Ehrlich Encourages Bear Hunt

By Anai Rhoads Ford
October 2005 - Maryland's annual black bear hunt began in Allegany and Garrett Counties Monday.

The hunt is only the second to take place in the state in five decades due to the low number of black bears. According to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources' there are only 266 to 437 bears in the state. Surrounding states have higher populations. West Virginia has approximately 12,000 bears, and Pennsylvania has an estimated 15,000 black bears and cubs.

The Maryland General Assembly's Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review voted 12 to 7 to reject the Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) proposed regulations on the hunt, saying they require scientific review. Despite this, Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich and the DNR ignored the legislature and approved Monday's bear hunt.

In 2004, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the Fund for Animals collectively offered $75,000 to aggrandise programmes that would better acquaint Maryland residents on black bears. However the State's Governor and DNR declined the offer.

The funds were offered to help educate the public on the black bear population. In addition, money would have gone towards compensating farmers for bear related agricultural damage.

"What Maryland needs is an educational programme to teach people how to store food and trash properly to prevent attracting bears to a free buffet, and a compensation programme to put money in the pockets of Maryland farmers who experience bear damage," said Michael Markarian, executive vice president of the HSUS. "Governor Ehrlich's trophy hunt is not helping farmers, citizens, or wildlife, and killing bears at random doesn't target the problems. It's like trying to reduce crime by shooting into a crowd."

West Virginia, Pennsylvania and other neighbouring states allow bear hunts, but prohibit the hunting of cub bears. Maryland permits the stalking and killing of small cubs.

"Last year the first bear killed was a 9 month-old female cub, and this year the first hunter to kill a bear was an 8 year-old girl," said Markarian. "Governor Ehrlich is personally responsible for exposing young children and young bears to this cruelty. Our state's top official should choose sound science and humane treatment of wildlife over political payback for his buddies at the NRA. Unless he calls off this bear hunt, it seems that Governor Ehrlich is personally committed to the trophy hunting of these unique and majestic creatures."

Related Article:

Black Bear Hunted Into Extinction

2005 Anai Rhoads Ford. Reproduction must be authorised in writing by author only. Altering, redistributing, or selling this material is strictly prohibited.

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