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Maryland General Assembly OKs beekeepers killing black bears threatening their hives

Del. Mike McKay, R-Allegany, explains his bill that would allow beekeepers to shoot a bear that is threatening their bee hives. (Michael Dresser/Baltimore Sun video)

Beekeepers whose hives are threatened by black bears would be allowed to shoot the marauding bears under one of the quirkier measures passed by the General Assembly this year.

The House of Delegates gave the bill the final OK Monday after agreeing to some tweaks made in the state Senate. It passed 124-17.

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Bee colony owners would only be allowed to attack bears on their own property and only if they had first installed and properly maintained an electric fence.

The bill was proposed by Western Maryland lawmakers who said bees should be subject to the same protection as livestock. State data indicates black bears make about half-dozen raids on bee colonies a year.

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Beekeepers who injure or kill a bear currently face $1,500 fines and six months in jail.

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