The Maryland General Assembly has just passed legislation making it legal to shoot -- and kill -- a black bear if it threatens a beekeeper's hive.
Under current law, a person must have a hunting license and a black bear hunting permit in order to hunt black bears in the state. The law provides an exemption for anyone who kills or wounds a black bear in defense of his/her own life, the lives of other individuals, or the lives of animals on the individual's property."
However, if this change to the current legislation is signed into law by Governor Hogan, the exemption on hunting black bears will now include owners of honeybee colonies. Beekeepers are required to install an electric fence to protect the hive and contact the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Additionally, the new legislation provides funding that beekeepers can access for their electric fences.
The DNR has stated it receives about six reports of damage to bee colonies annually. However, this damage could be caused by things other than bears. In fact, Maryland has a Black Bear Damage Reimbursement Fund, which gets approximately two claim requests per year.
Bluntly put, the new legislation is a license to kill magnificent black bears in Maryland.
The state estimates there are over 1,000 black bears spread across four counties. The legislation now makes it open season on all of these bears.
Please join me in urging Governor Hogan to VETO this cruel and unseemly legislation.