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Black bear
By Mickael Brangeon(Peupleloup) (Own work) [FAL], via Wikimedia Commons

Black bear hunt opens in western Md.

CUMBERLAND — Black bear season is opening in western Maryland with some significant changes in the way the hunt is conducted.

The four-day season opening Monday is the first with a predetermined end date since a 50-year moratorium on Maryland bear hunting ended in 2004.

The length of previous hunts was determined by a quota, with hunters having to check each night on whether the season would continue for another day.

Another change is an 18 percent increase in the number of permits issued. The Department of Natural Resources says it issued 450 permits this year, up from 380 in 2013.

The agency is managing a growing bear population. Wildlife managers have reported an increase in mange among road-killed bears. The skin disease is often associated with dense animal populations.