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Silver Spring, MD, Sep. 20 (UPI) -- Maryland's first bear hunt in a half century has exposed a deep rift in the state between animal rights activists and hunters.
Plagued by increasing encounters with black bears, the state is offering 200 licenses for use during Oct. 25-30 and Dec. 6-11 in two counties.

Like other mid-Atlantic states such as Virginia and Pennsylvania, black bears are making a comeback. But unlike those states, the gun control and animal rights lobbies in Maryland wield more power than the hunters and Second Amendment activists.

A spokesman for the Fund for Animals, based in Silver Spring, said, "We don't believe that we have to kill animals ... just so we can have their hides in our living rooms."

Hunters, who comprise a mere 4 percent of the state's population, and their allies say they are being bullied by wealthy, white, urban and suburban elites.

"We've had people comment that they hope that we die, instead of killing the bears," said Harry Spiker, the Maryland's chief bear biologist.

They also say animal rights activists are hypocritical: Last year Maryland shooters killed about 200,000 mourning doves and 87,000 deer -- all with virtually no protest

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