With a new governor in Maryland, the Humane Society of the United States is eager to lie, cheat and steal to convince Gov. Martin O’Malley to put an end to the bear hunt that was reinstated by former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.. So far, Gov. O’Malley is sticking with the plan.
Still, the governor plans to continue to allow the hunt as part of the state’s effort to control the bear population, said O’Malley spokesman Rick Abbruzzese.
“The governor certainly understands and respects the diverse viewpoints on the issue, but the growing bear population and its impact on citizens, especially in Western Maryland, requires some action,” Abbruzzese said.
With a growing bear population of about 10% per year, residence there are finding out that living with too many of these large predators can be not only a challenge but down right scary.
One person eager to see the hunt continue is Charlotte Stanton, whose home on wooded property in Grantsville was attacked by a rabid black bear Aug. 29.
Stanton, 39, said she was at home with her husband and two children when they saw a black bear climb up on their fence. She said she screamed to try to scare it away, but instead of running, it charged and tried to break in the door – which she held shut.
“The bear went to the window, and started yanking out the air conditioner,” she said. “Me and the bear wrestled over the air conditioner, with the bear trying to pull it out and me trying to hold it in.”
Finally, she said, her husband, Michael, found his shotgun and shot the bear. Tests showed it had rabies. All four members of the family had to get rabies shots because they had touched the bear’s blood and saliva.
“The state needs to let people shoot more than 50 bears because that’s not near enough,” Stanton said. “These bears just aren’t afraid of humans anymore.”
The lottery style bear hunt in the western part of the state calls for the taking of just 50 bears. Around 2,800 people applied for the 220 permits issued. When a hunter takes a bear, they must notify the state and take the bear to a registration station. Once 50 bears are taken, the hunt will be called off.
The bear hunt is scheduled to begin on October 22 and will run until either the 50 bears are taken or until October 27.