It just became more difficult for Twiggs County bears to find Miss Right. A one-day hunt in Bibb, Houston and Twiggs counties yielded 34 bears, approximately ten percent of the black bear population for the midstate. Some outdoorsmen are concerned that half of those bears were females and that all of the female bears were taken down in Twiggs County in the Tarversville area. Tarversville is located near the US-23/US-129 intersection with GA-96 in Twiggs County.
This is within a mile of where I had my only near-collision with a bear about eight years ago. When I told people that a black bear had burst from the undergrowth on the side of the road and crossed the highway right in front of my car, I had a difficult time getting people to believe me. Bear sightings in Middle Georgia were rare in those days, but things have changed.
Bears are not only sighted more regularly, but have become nuisances with increasing complaints in Houston and Bibb counties. According to the write-up in The Macon Telegraph, the estimated 300 black bears were the driving force behind the purchase of 10,000 acres of Oakey Woods land in Houston County. The land purchase has been discussed often on Peach Pundit.
There was also some well-founded concern about hunting the bears over baited fields, as discussed in this excerpt from The Macon Telegraph story by S. Heather Duncan:
Hunting bears over bait is a misdemeanor “of a high and aggravated nature.” DNR rangers issued six citations related to two bears killed by hunters who were using bait, [DNR ranger Corporal Robert] Stillwell said. He said the illegally shot bears included the largest bear killed that day, a 436-pound male, and a 250-pound male. Rangers caught hunters in the act on two different leased properties.
Each citation for hunting bears over bait can involve fines of up to $1,500 plus restitution of up to $1,500, but the penalty will be up to a judge in Twiggs County Probate Court, Stillwell said. He said next year there will be more rangers patrolling the hunt, which attracted as many as 40 or 50 hunters to hunt clubs with a few thousand acres. Some landowners charged $300 or $400 for one-day hunting rights on their land, he said.
Stillwell said hunting bear over bait is harder to prove without a tip, now that Georgia has legalized hunting deer over bait. He said a hunter can claim that the bait was intended for deer, even if it’s dog food with honey poured over it. “If we find a place (like that), then we’d know to go back there and check,” he said. “But in some instances, you have to wait for a bear to be killed to get them. That bothers me. My job is to protect the bears. … So it’s harder with having the baiting laws legalized, for sure.”
And what do you have to say about Middle Georgia’s one-day bear hunt? Or about the penalties for hunting bear over a baited site?