Maryland Hunters Harvest 103 Black Bears for 2023 Season

Warm weather prevailed for most of the hunt, but harvest remains steady

Photo of bear in a field

Photo by Mitch Adolph, submitted to Maryland DNR 2023 Photo Contest.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources reported that hunters harvested 103 black bears during the state’s 20th annual black bear hunt held Oct. 23-28 in Allegany, Frederick, Garrett, and Washington counties. The harvest consisted of 40 male and 63 female bears. An additional nine bears (four male and five female) were harvested between September 1 and October 31 by farmers utilizing agricultural damage permits.

Despite warm daytime temperatures and abundant natural foods in the woods – which means that bears travel less and are therefore not as easy to spot – hunters were able to harvest the same number of bears during the 2023 season as they did during the 2022 season. The daily harvest stayed consistent throughout the weeklong season and many hunters contributed their success to locating hickory or white oak stands. The 2023 harvest was slightly lower than the previous 5-year average of 111 bears.

“Bear hunters enjoyed cool mornings and clear weather during the bear season but had to overcome the abundance of natural food supplies, which is no easy feat,” Wildlife and Heritage Service Director Karina Stonesifer said. “Bear hunting is not only a passion for many hunters, but is a crucial management strategy to mitigate human/bear conflict throughout the black bear range.”

2023 Maryland Black Bear Hunt by the Numbers:

  • 103 black bears were harvested: 78 from Garrett County, 8 from Allegany County, 12 from Washington County, and 5 from Frederick County
  • The average bear weighed 166 pounds
  • The largest bear was an estimated live weight of 643 pounds and was taken in Garrett County
  • 65% of bears were taken on private land
  • 4,559 hunters applied for a permit
  • 950 permits were awarded

More information about black bear management in Maryland is available on the department’s website

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