Guide to Hunting & Trapping in Maryland

Black Bear Encounters

Western Maryland hunters are reminded that black bears are common throughout our four western counties. You may encounter a bear at anytime during your hunting pursuits. DNR reminds hunters that black bears rarely threaten humans and, if you encounter a bear, please remember the following:

Black bears are large, strong wild animals that should be treated with respect. When hunting in bear country, you should remain alert. DO NOT approach a bear, and DO NOT feed a bear.  Bears that associate food with people can become a threat to you safety.

Should you encounter a bear that is not aware of your presence, back away and leave the bear area.  Give the bear plenty of room. If you spot a bear cub, remain alert. The cub's mother is sure to be near. Again, back away and leave the area.

Should you encounter a bear a close range, speak to the bear in a calm, assertive voice. STAY CALM and don't run.  Remain upright and back away from the bear. Avoid direct eye contact, as the bear may perceive this as a threat. Again, give the bear plenty of room. Don't crowd the bear's personal space.

Black bears may exhibit some unique defensive behaviors when they feel their personal space is being threatened.  A crowed bear may huff or make a woofing noise at the threat. They may also swat the ground, pop their jaws, or even bluff charge the perceived threat. When a bear bluff charges it may stop several yards or just a few feet short of the threat. Remember not to run. Stay calm. Remain upright and back away from the bear.

Bears may also stand upright on the hind legs. This is not a sign of aggression. Bears usually stand upright when they are trying to get a better look at something. Bears rely heavily on their sense of smell and may stand upright to better determine the source of a new scent. It is important to remember that black bear attacks are extremely rare. In Maryland, there are no know cases of a human being attacked by a black bear. By using common sense and good judgment, we can continue to appreciate the natural beauty of these forest animals at a safe distance.

DNR continues to conduct research on bears in Western Maryland. We are seeking the cooperation of Maryland hunters in locating sows and cubs. If you observe a sow and cubs while you are hunting, please note the location and notify the closest Wildlife and Heritage Service Office. DNR thanks you for your cooperation.