Deer Management Program 2017-2018

The Howard County Department of Recreation & Parks has announced its fall/winter schedule for managing the deer population through bow and shotgun managed hunts and sharpshooting. 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 hunt program gives specially screened and selected hunters daytime access to various parks. This year’s managed hunts will include a combination of bow and shotgun, and will take place from dawn until noon. Each park will be closed for all other uses during this time.

The managed deer hunting schedule for 2017-2018 is as follows:

Alpha Ridge Park:

Bow & Shotgun        October 18; November 14; January 9; February 1

David Force Park:

Bow & Shotgun        October 24; November 7; January 16

Gorman Area (Middle Patuxent River and Kings Contrivance):

Bow & Shotgun        September 28; October 10 & 25; November 8 & 28;

High Ridge Park:

Shotgun                    October 5 and 17; January 18

Middle Patuxent Environmental Area:

Bow & Shotgun        October 3 & 26; November 10 & 30; January 2 & 30; February 13 & 27

Schooley Mill Park:

Shotgun                    October 11; November 16; January 4

West Friendship Park:

Bow & Shotgun        October 19; November 2; January 11

Wincopin Trail Area of Savage Park:

Bow Hunting             September 26; October 12 & 31

Separate from the managed hunts and under a special permit issued by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the sharpshooting program utilizes specially trained and qualified marksmen who use highly accurate, noise-suppressed rifles to remove deer in areas where the managed hunts are not feasible. All properties involved in the sharpshooting program are closed to the public during the hours of sharpshooting operation, 3:30 pm to midnight, unless otherwise noted. All the meat from this operation will be donated to charitable organizations in the area.

The sharpshooting schedule for 2017-2018 is as follows:

Alpha Ridge Landfill:

March 14, and in conjunction with the managed hunts in Alpha Ridge Park at the dates and times noted above.

Belmont Park:

December 20; January 10; February 14

Daniels Mill Overlook Open Space:

December 13; February 21

Dorsey Hall Open Space:

September 6; December 6; January 24; March 7

Fulton South Park:

September 20

Mount Hebron Open Space:

September 13; January 31

River’s Edge Open Space:

September 20

Robinson Nature Center:

February 7

Timbers at Troy Golf Course:

February 28

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. There is also information about the county’s deer management program available on the Department’s website at

The Department of Recreation & Parks and the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension Service also can arrange to have experts on the topic speak to homeowner associations, schools or other groups. Other Recreation & Parks’ deer management programs include an effort to reduce ticks on deer through the use of “Four-Poster” devices which deliver an approved pesticide to deer attracted to a feeder baited with corn. Developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the devices have been shown to reduce tick populations by 90 percent or more. The Department is also 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.

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