DNR black bear den survey proves productive

The Garrett County Republican

OAKLAND — Last month, as he does every March, Garrett County resident Harry Spiker checked on black bear sows and their cubs as they slept in their dens.

Spiker is a game mammal section leader for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. He is also Maryland’s principal black bear biologist coordinating bear research and management activities statewide. Since he lives and works in Garrett County, he also helps with bear management and nuisance issues locally.

“We maintain a sample of radio-collared sows (female bears) to track population growth and the overall health of the bear population,” Spiker said. “We try to maintain approximately 20 bears with radios across the four western counties. Since bears give birth every other year, that usually has us working about 10 bear dens per year but there are fluctuations as some bears may die, move away, den in unreachable places, etc.”

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