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Black Bear Activity Increases As Fall Weather Approaches
Annapolis, Md. — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources reminds Marylanders that cooling temperatures and falling leaves signal the time when black bears begin feeding heavily and increasing their daily movement to prepare for hibernation.
When actively searching for food, bears will take advantage of human-generated 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 between people and bears.
“Simply storing trash and pet food in a manner that will not attract bears is often enough to avoid creating problems for people and bears,” said Harry Spiker, Game Mammal Project Leader of the DNR Wildlife & Heritage Service. “Hold off on feeding songbirds until December after most bears have entered their den for the season.”
Paul Peditto, Director of DNR’s Wildlife & Heritage Service, reminds that, “Marylanders typically talk of Garrett and Allegany counties when discussing bears. However, Washington and Frederick counties are home to a healthy population of bruins; and dispersing bears have been seen across the state in recent months as they search for suitable home territories; including confirmed sightings in Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties. Regardless of the location, we know that the best way to deal with dispersing bears is to allow them to find their own way.”
DNR’s Wildlife & Heritage Service annually surveys throughout western Maryland to gauge the presence of natural foods available for bears and other wildlife. The 2008 annual survey revealed adequate amounts of hickories, cherries and apples throughout the region. However, acorns, the black bear’s 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 winter hibernation. Research has shown that during periods of natural food shortage, bears are more likely to be drawn to human-generated food sources.
“It is the responsibility of all citizens living in Maryland’s bear country to take precautions and prevent bears from accessing and becoming habituated to any human-generated food sources,” added Spiker.
Black bear research has shown that Maryland’s bears begin occupying dens in mid-November and that most are denned by mid-December
To report nuisance bear activity, call the Wildlife & Heritage Service at 301-334-4255 in Garrett County, 301-777-2136 in Allegany County, and 301-842-2702 in Washington and Frederick Counties or toll-free statewide at 1-877-620-8DNR, extension 8540. If there is imminent likelihood that the people or a wayward bear are in harms way, DNR will respond with appropriate and time-tested mitigation tools and techniques. To learn more about Maryland’s black bears, visit www.dnr.maryland.gov/wildlife/bblivingwith.asp.
September 23, 2008
Contact: Olivia Campbell
410-260-8016 office I 410-507-7525 cell
Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 449,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 12 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov.