The Howard County Department of Recreation & Parks has announced its fall/winter schedule for managing the deer population through bow and shotgun managed hunts. Each park will be closed on its scheduled days for all other uses from dawn until noon during the managed hunt operations. The managed hunt program gives specially-screened, approved hunters, daytime access to various parks with a combination of archery equipment or shotguns. (Sharpshooting is now being limited to February and March. That schedule will be released at a later date.)
This effort helps maintain a stable, balanced white-tailed deer population in our parks 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 and sharpshooting has taken place. The managed deer hunting schedule for 2019-2020 is as follows:
• Alpha Ridge Park: Shotgun and Bow – 10/17/2019, 11/19/2019, & 1/30/2020
• Blandair Park (North): Bow Only – 10/8/2019, 11/7/2019, 12/5/2019, & 1/14/2020
• David Force Park: Shotgun & Bow – 10/15/2019, 11/12/2019, & 1/9/2020
• Gorman Area (Middle Patuxent River and Kings Contrivance): Shotgun & Bow – 11/5/19, 12/3/19, 12/17/19, & 1/16/2020
• Middle Patuxent Environmental Area (MPEA): Shotgun & Bow – 10/10/19, 10/24/19, 11/11/19, 11/21/19, 12/4/19, 1/7/2020, & 1/21/2020
• Schooley Mill Park: Shotgun Only – 10/29/19 & 12/19/19
• West Friendship Park: Shotgun Only – 10/22/19, 11/14/19, & 12/12/19
• Wincopin Trail Area of Savage Park: Bow Only – 10/31/19, 12/10/19, & 1/28/20
Deer population management programs, such as managed hunts and sharpshooting, are not possible in many areas of the County. Therefore, 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 infor-mation on how to use deer repellents and fencing to protect crops and property, how to avoid deer-auto collisions, and how to prevent contact with Lyme Disease carrying ticks. There is also infor-mation available about the county’s deer management program at www.howardcountymd.gov/Departments/Recreation-and-Parks/Natural-Resources/Wildlife.
The Department of Recreation & Parks and the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension Service can also arrange to have experts speak to homeowner associations, schools or other groups. Other Recreation & Parks’ deer management programs include an effort to reduce ticks by delivering an approved pesticide to deer through the use of four-poster feeders baited with corn. Devel-oped by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the devices have been shown to reduce tick populations. The Department also is collaborating with the University of Maryland and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service in an area-wide tick management study, which is investigating tick reduction practices and the movements of tick host species, such as deer and white-footed mice. For more information on the deer management program, call the Department of Recreation & Parks at 410-313-1675.