It’s that time of year again! Yellow and black signs stand at 41 parks in Montgomery County, announcing its annual deer population management program.
Even in the most populated county in Maryland, deer are plentiful, especially now through December during white-tails’ breeding season.
“Suburban and urban development have actually exacerbated the deer problem,” said David Petersen, deer program Manager. “If you can imagine, when we clear some woods, turn a field into a housing development and plant a bunch of trees and shrubs, that’s highly attractive to deer.”
More than 17,000 deer have been harvested since the inception of the county’s management program about 21 years ago, and while that may seem like an impressive number, every year there are hundreds of vehicle crashes involving deer in Maryland, according to the Department of Transportation.
“This time of year, be very vigilant and very careful when you’re on the roads,” Petersen said. “Keep your speeds down and scan the sides of the roads.”
Currently, deer populations are managed through shotgun hunts and park police sharpshooting, but a new form of hunting could expand next season.
“Archery gives us the ability to get into parks that would not be appropriate for discharging a firearm,” Petersen said.
This is the last season in a three-year pilot program testing the archery method.
Petersen expects the method to spread to more down-county parks.
All of the deer meat is utilized by hunting participants or donated to the Capital Area Food Bank, which has received more than 247,000 pounds from the county to date.
A new law went into effect earlier this month, reducing the safety zone for archery hunters in Montgomery County from 100 yards to 50 yards. This now aligns with state law.