OAKLAND, Md., Oct. 27 (UPI) -- Maryland's six-day black bear hunting season reached nearly half its targeted number of killings on the first day, state officials said.
The state has set a goal of 60 to 85 bears in Garrett and Allegany counties for the season scheduled to end no later than Oct. 31, The Baltimore Sun reported Tuesday.
After a 50-year moratorium on black bear hunting that ended several years ago, Maryland's bear population has come back from near extinction, the state's Department of Natural Resources said. The DNR puts the number of bruins in Western Maryland at more than 600.
"The population is thriving; it's the wonderful habitat," said DNR's lead bear biologist, Harry Spiker. "It's a region-wide trend in the Eastern United States and Canada. Our second-growth forest has matured into a veritable banquet for bears."
DNR biologists weighed all the bears killed, tested them for West Nile virus and took DNA samples.