Despite a 12-7 vote against Maryland’s proposed bear hunt by the Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review Committee, Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said the bear hunt would go forward as planned this October.
The Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review Committee is charged with reviewing rules and decisions by stage agencies, and it voted 12-7 in late August to oppose the Maryland Department of Natural Resources plans to allow a bear hunt. The vote means that Gov. Ehrlich must personally approve the bear hunt, and a spokesman for the governor said the DNR would be allowed to proceed with the planned hunt.
Paul F. Schurick, spokesman for Gov. Ehrlich, told the Baltimore Sun,
The governor is going to allow DNR to move ahead with their plan. The governor asked the scientists at DNR for a recommendation, and the science has not changed.
Animal rights groups claimed the bear hunt was simply a quid pro quo reward to the National Rifle Association for its support of the governor. Humane Society of the United States president Wayne Pacelle told The Baltimore Sun,
This hunt amounts to a political payback by the governor to the NRA and other trophy-hunting advocacy groups who have supported him.
Paul Peditto, director of DNR’s Wildlife and Heritage Service, countered that the justification for the bear hunt was based on sound scientific management practice. Peditto noted that the DNR currently receives about 150 complaints a week about bear activity and told The Baltimore Sun,
We now average more than 30 bears who are hit and killed by cars in Western Maryland a year, often injuring drivers. To our mind, the time has come to stabilize our bear population so that people and bears can coexist.
Maryland’s bear hunt is scheduled for Oct. 25 through Oct. 30 with a limit of 30 bears to be killed. If 30 bears are not killed in October, an additional season from Dec. 6 to Dec. 11 is planned.
Governor says fall black bear hunt will go on. Tom Pelton, The Baltimore Sun, August 26, 2004.
Legislative panel hears arguments to halt bear hunt. Gretchen Parker, Associated Press, August 25, 2004.
Panel Votes Against Bear Hunt. David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post, August 26, 2004.