UPDATE 4:14 p.m. An animal rights group today released information and started a petition about a deer in Wheaton near Brookside Gardens that it says survived a bullet to the face during a Montgomery Parks deer hunt. The group has started an effort to get Montgomery Parks to stop its deer management program.
ORIGINAL STORY Montgomery County’s Deer Management Program has allowed for the killing of more than 5,500 deer in each of the last several hunting seasons, yet the number of reported deer-vehicle collisions and probable cases of Lyme disease have remained steady.
In a meeting of the County Council’s Public Safety Committee on Thursday morning, Councilmembers Phil Andrews, Roger Berliner and government officials discussed potential steps to curbing the number of incidents typically associated with a large deer population.
Much of the discussion revolved around legislation in the General Assembly that would allow bow hunters to hunt up to 50 yards from homes instead of the current 150-yard regulation. Rob Gibbs, who runs the county’s deer management program with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, said that legislation wouldn’t effect his program much. Park and Planning uses Park Police sharpshooters.
Those sharpshooters recently finished a deer kill in a Chevy Chase section of Rock Creek Park in which Gibbs said they killed 30 deer. Montgomery Parks estimated the deer population in the area was three times the recommended density, which it said led to damage to natural resources, deer-related car accidents and the increased potential of Lyme disease.
“The program in Rock Creek went like clockwork,” Gibbs said. “We’re very pleased with how well it went, particularly the interaction with the public. We didn’t receive any calls.”
The 277-acre Rock Creek Stream Valley Park has seen damage to natural resources, deer-related car accidents and the increased potential of Lyme disease because of the increased amount of deer in the area, Montgomery Parks claimed in a press release on Monday.
Montgomery Parks says estimates indicate the deer population in the park, east of the Connecticut Avenue and East-West Highway intersection, is three times the recommended density.
The agency, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and planning Commission, went through a public commenting period last year, during which a vast majority of residents supported the deer hunting plan.
Park Police sharpshooters will kill deer in the park, “under very stringent guidelines and in the most humane way possible,” according to the press release.
The hunts will take place from Feb. 1 through March 1 from 5:30 p.m. until sunrise each day. They may happen annually from Jan. 1 to March 31 if necessary.
Information about the hunts will be posted on signs throughout the park and Montgomery Parks will donate deer meat for consumption at local soup kitchens.
Flickr photo by John Dylan O’Leary
County Council President Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac) said he’s exploring a number of options for thinning out the area’s deer population at a Town Hall meeting on Wednesday night in Potomac.
A resident complained about the prevalence of deer in his neighborhood and two vehicle accidents he experienced, which he blamed on deer running through the street.
“We’re trying. We get it,” said Berliner, who as a former resident of MacArthur Boulevard near the C&O Canal National Park said he’s had close encounters in the past.
This week, the Council supported a deer management bill proposal as a county priority for the 2013 Maryland General Assembly.
The bill would reduce restrictions for archery hunters by allowing them to hunt up to 50 yards from a home with the resident’s permission instead of up to 150 yards from a home. The bill is sponsored Del. Eric Luedtke (D-Dist. 14) who represents parts of East County, Brookeville and Damascus.
Berliner also said he’s asked Maryland’s congressional leaders to help the U.S. Park Service find funding for an Environmental Impact Statement that would allow it to pursue a managed deer hunt in C&O Canal Park.
The Council has “steadily increased funding” for deer management over County Executive Isiah Leggett’s recommended totals, Berliner said.
The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission is weighing a managed deer hunt in a section of Rock Creek Park in Chevy Chase. The vast majority of public comment on that plan supported the program.
Flickr photo by John Dylan O’Leary