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The Maryland Black Bear Lottery is Open

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is currently accepting applications for this year’s lottery for black bear hunting permits. Successful applicants will receive a permit valid for the black bear hunting season scheduled to take place October 20 through 23, 2014.

The lottery will be operated through DNR’s licensing and customer service platform, COMPASS. Interested persons may apply in one of the following ways: online through COMPASS; by phone at 1-855-855-3906 (weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.); by visiting a DNR Service Center; or at one of more than 250 sport license agents across the State.

All entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on August 31 and accompanied by a $15 nonrefundable application fee. DNR will only accept one application per person with duplicates resulting in disqualification and forfeiture of all fees. All applicants please note: Your DNR ID number is your lottery number, which you will retain each year. DNR will issue 450 hunting permits.

New this year, the Department will no longer use a quota system to manage the hunt; it will remain open for entire the four days. The length of the season was chosen based on 10 years’ worth of bear check station data collected by DNR. With the elimination of a quota, hunters now no longer need to call the hotline each night, allowing them to more effectively plan their hunts. The opportunity to hunt black bears in Maryland remains limited to Garrett and Allegany counties.

To ensure those who have never received a permit have better odds, DNR implemented a Preference Point System in 2007. Hunters who apply will receive one entry in the random drawing as well as one additional entry for each past consecutive year they applied but were unsuccessful.

All preference points will be forfeited if an applicant: skips a year applying; is selected to receive a bear hunting permit in the random drawing; or is selected in the random drawing, but forfeits the permit. Applicants will have the opportunity to purchase a preference point, allowing those who cannot hunt in 2014 the opportunity to retain their points for use in future drawings. Each successful applicant will have the option of choosing up to two other individuals to join them in the hunt. These individuals, known as subpermittees, may participate in all aspects of the hunt but in no circumstances may the entire party take more than one bear.

Hunters will again have the option of voluntarily contributing to the Black Bear Damage Reimbursement Fund when they apply for a permit. Donated funds will be used to directly reimburse Maryland farmers who have suffered agricultural damage caused by black bears. Established in 1996, the fund has paid out more than $100,000 in eligible claims to Maryland farmers.

For more information, visit the 2014 Black Bear Hunt Guide or follow @MDBlackBear on Twitter.