At the time of European settlement, black bears occupied all of Maryland. As settlers moved westward, valuable habitat was lost. By the 1950s, only a few bears remained in
far western Maryland. Due to habitat recovery and regional conservation programs, Maryland is now home to a healthy population of bears.
Currently, Maryland has a breeding population of black bears in the four westernmost counties (Garrett, Allegany, Washington, and Frederick). Although evidence of a breeding population is confined to those western counties, the Department receives several sightings and complaints in central and southern counties each year. To Report Bear Related Emergencies Call 1-410-260-8888.
Black Bear Fact Sheet
What To Do If You See a Bear
Living with Black Bears/Visiting Bear Country
There are more than 2,000 adult and subadult black bears roaming the occupied counties of Maryland (Garrett, Allegany, Washington, and Frederick Counties) with sightings common throughout much of the state. Counties are considered to be occupied if a breeding
population is documented.
Although Maryland biologists have researched and estimated the population size it is important to understand that the population of black bears is in a constant state of flux due to the large home range of these mammals and to their seasonal movements. In January and February, female black bears (sows) give birth in their dens every other year. Although the cubs are capable of independence within six months (by June), the family group often will stay together until the sow is ready to breed again the following year in June.
The young bears can travel great distances to find new territory and easy food sources. As a result, there are notable increases in bear/vehicle collisions and human/bear conflicts during this juvenile dispersal period in May through July.
Black bears have adapted to scarce winter food supplies by hibernating during winter months and will consume a great deal of calories to prepare for hibernation. Because of this activity, there is another peak in black bear movement in October and November.
The Maryland Wildlife & Heritage Service is tasked with managing black bears in Maryland. Staff carefully work to balance the needs of both the species and a diverse public. Black bear population management is necessary to reduce human-bear conflicts and damage caused by black bears. Between 2009-2019, black bears have caused a yearly average of 480+ nuisance calls and $18,400 in agricultural damages. In addition, around 60 bears are killed each year by vehicle strikes. To address these issues and others, the Wildlife and Heritage Service has created the Maryland Black Bear Management Plan as a framework for conserving Maryland black bears.The Maryland Black Bear Management Plan has six main management goals:
An Overview of the Maryland Black Bear Hunting Seasons 2004-2019
Purchase Black Bear Reimbursement Fund Stamps and
580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis MD 21401
Call toll-free in *Maryland* at 1-877-620-8DNR (8367)
Out of State: 410-260-8DNR (8367)