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Bear lottery perfect – Garrett County bear hunting

Michael A. Sawyers
Cumberland Times-News The Cumberland Times-News Sun Sep 26, 2010, 08:00 AM EDT

— Well it sure didn’t take long for me to see a bear.

About 9 a.m. on the opening day of the Maryland deer bowhunting season I looked to my left and here toddling down a game trail came a bear. I wasn’t baiting.

The big ears on the bear quickly identified it as a youngun. At about 30 yards, the bear sniffed me and stood on his hind legs. He or she remained in that position for about 20 seconds or so huffing and a puffing and a sniffing the air. Probably a Smokey impersonator.

Apprently it didn’t like the aroma. The bruin took a 90-degree up the hill, showing me a side view and confirming that is was a youngster. I’m guessing 90 or 100 pounds.

That evening I got an emailed photo from a hunting friend and he too had seen a bear while sitting in a treestand about a mile or so from my location.

I think a couple things. I think there are a lot of bears out there. However, I also think that we may end up seeing and killing fewer of them during the October hunt because of the massive amounts of acorns in the woods.

That much food in the hinterlands will not necessitate much movement by bears in order to fill their stomachs. Less movement means fewer sightings. It may also mean that corn crops don’t get hit as hard.

If you are a hunter who has applied every year, but never received a bear hunting permit, you won’t be happy with my next statement.

The bonus-point system used in the bear hunting lottery is working perfectly.

This year, there were hunters with as many as four chances to draw out and hunters with only one chance to get permit.

Numbers supplied by Harry Spiker of the Maryland Wildlife & Heritage Service show that 48 percent (125) of the 260 permits went to applicants with four chances; 20 percent (53) to those with three chances; 17 percent (44) to those with two chances; and 15 percent (38) to those with only one chance.

The agency offers hunters the opportunity to simply buy a bonus point, without applying for a hunting permit during the current year. I’m not sure how many did that this year, but in 2009 there were 149 who went that route.

Anyway, when I say the bonus-point system is working perfectly, I mean that the people with the most chances got the most permits and those with the fewest chances got the fewest permits. It was a perfect descending order.

That doesn’t give you much solace if you have never been on the receiving end of a permit. I know a half-dozen people or so who had four chances to draw but didn’t.

Spiker has said that sometime after a new bear population study takes place in 2011 that the agency may consider new options for bear hunting.

And now for the question that everybody has been asking me. How many of the permits went to residents of Allegany and Garrett counties?

And now for the answer.

Garrett County residents drew 26 percent of the permits (68); Allegany County, 14 percent (36); other Maryland residents, 60 percent (156); nonresidents, 7 percent (19).

Spiker said 10 percent of the hunting licenses sold are to nonresidents, so they are awarded no more than 10 percent of the bear permits.

Although 40 percent of the permits went to Garrett and Allegany county hunters, Spiker said that percentage was 60 during the first few years of the hunt.

Contact Outdoor Editor Mike Sawyers at msawyers@times-news.com

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