Black Bear Task Force - Issues and Concerns
BBTF Issues and Concerns
Black bears have become one of the more challenging wildlife species to manage in Maryland. Probably no other wildlife species can reflect the true feeling of "wildness" better than can the black bear. Interactions with bears are remembered and retold for years to come. The sight of a bear is proof that Maryland has extensive forest habitat for this wide ranging wildlife species.
"The opportunistic behavior of bears contributes to the number of interactions between bears and people. Black bears are highly mobile, curious, intelligent and very adaptable animals (Pelton 1982). The omnivorous food habits of bears allow them to feed on a variety of food items. Given the opportunity, bears will exploit human food sources at landfills, garbage cans, campgrounds or picnic areas and move long distances to use them (Jonkel and Cowan 1971). Bears also learn to associate food with people, coolers, backpacks, tents, trailers and vehicles and may become bold in their attempts to obtain it (Tate 1983). "Once bears learn these associations and become food conditioned, it is difficult to correct this behavior" (GSMNP 2002).
Bears can become a nuisance, particularly when they become habituated to humans and human dwellings. This may be especially problematic for people living near prime bear habitat. In Maryland conflicts between people and bears arise when bears damage personal property, pets, beehives, livestock, and agricultural crops.
There is also a concern for personal safety. Black bears are wild and their behavior is sometimes unpredictable. Although extremely rare, attacks on humans have occurred in North America, inflicting serious injuries and death.
There is much interest in how this species is managed. It was the intention of the task force to look at the present status of black bears in the state, identify concerns and opportunities, and use what we have learned in the past 10 years to identify the best strategies for the future management of bears in Maryland. Of primary concern to the task force was to continue to ensure that this species will continue to be enjoyed by Maryland citizens while minimizing bear-human conflicts.
Members of the BBTF come from different backgrounds and represent a range of values and opinions regarding the management of black bears in Maryland. The BBTF concerns for the future management of black bears in Maryland can be found in Appendix E (Black Bear Task Force Issues and Concerns.) After developing this broad list of concerns, the task force then reviewed information from biologists, private organizations, landowners, and other states to gain a perspective on how to best address these concerns. The task force has been provided information regarding nuisance bear problems, bear damage to agricultural crops, funding alternatives, public education, humane treatment of bears, bear-related recreation and biological considerations.
All contents (c) 2003 Maryland Department of Natural Resources. All
This page last updated April 01, 2003