The Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks will hold fall and winter deer hunts in the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area (MPEA). The MPEA program and those held in other county parks help to maintain a stable, balanced white-tailed deer population where deer browsing has been shown to reduce biodiversity.
Since the program began in 1998, there has been an observable improvement in habitat quality and vegetation abundance in many of the parks where managed hunting has taken place. The managed hunts in the MPEA will include a combination of bow and shotgun hunting. Hunting hours are from dawn until noon, and the park will be closed for all other uses during this time. The MPEA hunting schedule is:
In addition to this managed hunt program that gives specially screened and selected hunters daytime access to certain parks, the Department also operates a sharpshooting program. The sharpshooting program utilizes licensed and qualified marksmen and precise, accurate, noise-suppressed firearms at night in areas where a managed hunt is not feasible.
Since deer population reduction programs (such as the hunts and sharpshooting) are not possible in many areas of the county, the Department of Recreation & Parks has developed a Deer Management Reference Manual to help homeowners and gardeners live in harmony with white-tailed deer. The manual, which is available in all county library branches, contains information on the use of deer repellents, fencing to protect crops and property, how to avoid deer-auto collisions, and Lyme disease prevention. Information about the county’s deer management program is also available on the Department’s website at www.howardcountymd.gov/deermanagement.htm.