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A black bear at the Alligator National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo)

Md. seeks comments on expanded bear hunt proposal

ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is seeking public comment on a proposal to expand the annual black bear hunt to Frederick and Washington counties.

The plan is among a number of proposed regulatory changes the agency released Tuesday for the 2016-18 hunting seasons. The public comment period runs through March 15. Public meetings are scheduled March 9 in Annapolis and March 14 in Hagerstown.

Bear hunting has been restricted to Garrett and Allegany counties since Maryland ended a 51-year moratorium in 2004.

The agency says the bear population east of Allegany is growing, along with bear nuisance complaints. It says additional hunting pressure should help slow the expansion of bears into counties further east.