Are the recent black bear sightings on the Eastern Shore
Marylanders typically associate black bears with Garrett and Allegany counties in western Maryland and there are healthy populations in Washington and Frederick counties. In recent months, however, there have been confirmed sightings across the state, including Anne Arundel, Calvert, Baltimore and St. Mary's counties on the western shore; and Kent, Queen Anneís and Talbot counties on the Eastern Shore.
This is not unusual behavior for this time of year. Back bears begin feeding heavily in early fall and range further afield as they prepare for hibernation. An annual survey conducted by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to gauge the presence of natural foods available for bears and other wildlife found adequate amounts of hickories, cherries and apples throughout western Maryland. However, acorns, the black bearís primary natural fall food source, appear to be nearly nonexistent throughout Garrett, Allegany, Washington, and Frederick Counties.
As a result, bears will have to work harder to acquire the fat reserves they need to sustain themselves during hibernation. During periods of natural food shortage, bears are more likely to be drawn to human-generated food sources.
The best way to deal with dispersing bears is to allow them to find their own way and to reduce the availability of food sources such as trash, pet food and birdfeeders. When bears exploit human-generated food sources they often lose their natural fear of people, leading to conflicts and potentially dangerous encounters.
Marylandís bears begin occupying dens in mid-November and most are in hibernation by mid-December.
Paul Peditto, Director
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