Abstract

Title:  Local Government Deer Management: Meeting Community Concerns When Stepping Out of the Box.
Author(s): PhiIip C. Norman - Howard County, Maryland Department of Recreation and Parks
Year: 2002
Abstract: Howard County, Maryland, located midway between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, is a fast-growing and affluent suburban area. By the mid-1990s, the population of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianusj in many parts of the county had risen to such levels that both man-made and natural environments were being negatively affected. In the fall of 1997, the Department of Recreation and Parks was directed to initiate a program to reduce the population of white-tailed deer in the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area (MPEA) through licensed sport hunting. The Department also was encouraged to pursue non-lethal means of managing overabundant deer. Facing intense pressure from proponents and opponents of lethal management, as well as the safety concerns of nearby residents, a hunting program was developed which possesses several levels of clualification to ensure participants are knowledgeable, law-abiding, ethical, safety-minded, and effective. Questionnaires, interviews, police records checks, safety training, and marksmanship qualification are used to screen applicants and develop a roster of participants who are then guaranteed several opportunities to hunt under special exemptions from regular bag limits and seasons. Safety controls and restricted hunter density also make this program attractive to applicants, who are asked to volunteer time for support activities in exchange for a reduction in registration fees. Now in its fourth season, and expanded to include nearby David W. Force Park (DFWP), there have been no safety violations or hunt-related accidents in the program's history. Over 400 deer have been removed from approximately 1,285 acres, with more than 100 being donated to various charitable purposes. Community support continues to be strong, though not universal.

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