Essay

The Largest Black Bear Ever Caught in Maryland

The black bear, also referred to as the American black bear, is a medium-sized bear that inhabits North America’s forests. It is the most common bear species worldwide and the most common on the continent. Four counties in Maryland are home to the majority of black bears: Garrett, Allegany, Washington, and Frederick. Garrett and Allegany counties have the largest concentration of them. The only wild bear found in Maryland is the American black bear.

The black bear is the smallest bear in North America, growing to a length of 5–6 feet and weighing between 110 and 450 pounds, although being larger than other bears globally. What then was the biggest black bear that Maryland had ever captured?

The Biggest Black Bear Maryland Has Ever Caught

The Boone and Crockett Club’s record books have game records for Maryland, however they are only restricted to trophy size. The bear’s skull dimensions are the sole information contained in the club’s records. The bear’s length and weight are irrelevant. Furthermore, the value of found skulls is equal to that of skulls collected during a hunt.

Lacie Ashby holds the Maryland Boone and Crockett record. She discovered a 22 and 8/16-inch-long black bear skull—minus its front teeth—while out for a stroll with her dog. Measuring 22 and 2/16 inches, the second-place skull on the list was also a find.

Measuring 22 and 1/16 inches, the largest skull on the list belonged to a black bear that a hunter killed. But this bear only had a weight of 374 pounds. The trophy underneath it was 21 and 10/16 inches in size. This bear was about seven feet tall and weighed an amazing 615 pounds. This illustrates that there is no absolute correlation between the size of the bear and the size of the skull.

The biggest black bear, however, that was ever captured in Maryland was 643 pounds.On the opening day of the 2023 hunting season, a hunter in Garrett County going by the name Melissa shot the bear. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources claims that it is the state of Maryland’s official record holder. Whether the hunter enters it into the Boone and Crockett Club archives is a mystery.

The Biggest Black Bear Captured in US History

The 900-pound cow killer black bear was the largest black bear ever captured in American history. M.E. Musgrave, a hunter for the U.S. Biological Survey, took the picture on the Moqui Reservation in Arizona in December 1921. Robert J. Shuttleworth claimed to have killed a black bear with the largest known black bear skull, measuring 23-3/16 inches. In Sanpete, Utah, the largest black bear skull found in the United States was found. In total, it was 23 and 10/16 inches long. These final two have unknown weights.

Maryland Bear Hunting

Maryland outlawed black bear hunting in 1953 due to overhunting. In 2004, the state allowed bear hunting once more when the bear population recovered to sustainable levels. Every year, the state has one hunting season, which usually ends in late October. Hunters use a lottery procedure to apply for permits. Between 2004 and 2021, hunters harvested 83 bears on average annually.

Although it is illegal for hunters in Maryland to hunt bears with dogs, they may use their dogs to find a dead or injured bear. It is illegal to use calls, scents, or bait to draw in bears. It is also forbidden for hunters to hunt from motorized vehicles or to kill bears in their dens. Bear hunting is permitted from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after dusk during the season.