Montgomery Parks announced details of how it will manage the county deer population for the period September 2019 through March 2020.
Eight parks were added to the program this year, bringing the total to 54 parks where archery and/or shotgun managed deer hunting or Park Police-based sharpshooting operations will take place. The 54 parks comprise more than 50 percent of Montgomery Parks total land area, according to a press release.
“Montgomery County consists of a patchwork of urban, suburban, and agriculturally developed lands. This patchwork brings with it, excellent ‘edge’ habitat, rich in food and cover resources where deer thrive. This optimal habitat, combined with limitations on hunting and a lack of other predators, results in overabundant deer populations and increased impacts to the environment and human interests.” said Ryan Butler, Montgomery Parks Wildlife Ecologist. “Our deer population management efforts are intended to address these matters of public safety, natural resources protection, and other concerns of county residents. Across all program elements, the safety of residents remains our top priority.”
The program to address the problems caused by overabundant deer populations began 23 years ago. It focuses on areas of the county most likely to result in deer-automobile accidents, excessive damage to the environment, private landscapes and agriculture, and concerns over disease.
Over 19,500 deer have been removed from select parks since the beginning of the program, according to the Montgomery Parks press release. All the resultant deer meat is used and/or donated by managed hunting participants. Park Police have donated more than 315,000 pounds to the Capital Area Food Bank to date.
Last year Montgomery Parks expanded its Archery-Based Managed Hunting Program to include Bennett Creek Conservation Park, Damascus and Watts Branch Stream Valley Park, Units 3 & 4, Travillah; and expanded Park Police-based Sharpshooting Program.
The National Park Service implemented deer management for the first time within the C&O Canal Historic Park, Gold Mine tract, using sharpshooting, with the possibility of reproductive control in the future; dependent upon funding.
Muddy Branch Stream Valley Park Units 2 & 3, and Cabin John Stream Valley Park Units 1 – 3., are parks close to Potomac that have been added to those in the program. In addition to the expansions, two park locations will see an adjustment to strategy. Muddy Branch Stream Valley Park Unit 1 will transition from sharpshooting to archery managed hunting.
Rock Run Stream Valley Park and adjacent WSSC and Avenel properties are included in this year’s report for consideration for future deer management.
Signs alerting the public of all hunts are posted in advance throughout and surrounding affected parks, at all park entrances and in select communities surrounding the affected parks.
An overabundance of deer can profoundly impact native vegetation and habitat for other wildlife. Park studies and observations have shown that where deer populations are high, abundance of forest understory shrubs, trees and wildflowers is reduced. Other studies have shown that other species, especially forest birds and small mammals, decline as both food and cover are heavily impacted by deer browsing and reduced understory.
The only way to reduce damage to natural communities is to reduce deer populations, or to restrict access of deer within park areas.
Even after deer populations have been reduced, recovery of vegetation may occur slowly over many years. Current staffing and funding have not permitted detailed studies to quantify the extent of vegetative recovery in parks where management is taking place. However, general observation by long-time naturalists and other qualitative information strongly suggest that native understory vegetation is increasing where deer populations have been reduced. Several species, including some orchids and lilies that had not been seen for years are now blooming again as well, though in limited numbers.
The county also offered the following Driver Safety Tips:
As summer winds down, daylight hours decrease, deer food sources are shifting, and the breeding season, known as the rut, is approaching. Each of these factors influence the movement patterns of deer and increase the risk of deer-vehicle collisions. The months of October through December constitute the majority of the rut for white-tailed deer. During this period, deer activity and movement reaches its annual peak. Montgomery Parks urges residents and drivers to use caution as deer activity becomes more frequent and unpredictable through the autumn months, and offers the following recommendations:
Be alert for deer on or near roadways.
Be aware that deer are most active from dusk through dawn.
Look for eye-shine along road edges.
Deer may travel in groups, so if you see one deer expect others.
Deer crossing signs signify areas where multiple accidents have occurred.
Never swerve to avoid colliding with a deer.
A collision with a deer can happen on any roadway in the county but be particularly cautious in areas where you observe deer often and where woodlands/natural habitat run adjacent to the roadway.
For more information, including a copy of the County’s deer management plan, visit www.ParksDeerManagement.org.
Archery Managed Deer Hunting Program
[Pre-selected, Insured Groups: M-NCPPC Permit, Only]
No Park Closure – Parks remain open to public as usual. Hunting may occur Monday to Saturday, September to January. Legal hunting hours are ½ hour before sunrise until ½ hour after sunset.
• Bennett Creek Conservation Park (Damascus)
• Bucklodge Conservation Park (Boyds)
• Cabin John Stream Valley Park Units 1, 2 & 3 (Bethesda/Cabin John)
• Great Seneca Stream Valley Park Unit 1(Gaithersburg)
• Muddy Branch Stream Valley Park Units 1, 2 & 3 (Darnestown/North Potomac)
• North Branch Stream Valley Park Unit 4 (Olney)
• Watts Branch Stream Valley Park Units 1, 2, 3 & 4 (Potomac/Travilah)
Lottery-based and Cooperative Managed Deer Hunting Programs [Lottery-based Hunting by M-NCPPC Permit, Only] Parks Closed 24 hours each scheduled date
12 Hoyles Mill Conservation Park (Boyds)
25 Hoyles Mill Conservation Park (Boyds)
26 Black Hill Regional Park: 10 Mile Creek Segment (Boyds) Bucklodge Conservation Park (Boyds)
1 Woodstock Equestrian Park (Beallsville)
4 Rachel Carson Conservation Park (Olney)
6 North Germantown Greenway (Clarksburg)/Great Seneca SVP Unit 2(Gaithersburg)
8 Black Hill Regional Park: 10 Mile Creek Segment (Boyds) Bucklodge Conservation Park (Boyds)
12 Blockhouse Point Conservation Park (Darnestown)
14 Bennett Creek Conservation Park (Damascus)
15 Hoyles Mill Conservation Park (Boyds)
18 Rachel Carson Conservation Park (Olney)
20 North Germantown Greenway (Clarksburg)/Great Seneca SVP Unit 2(Gaithersburg)
22 Woodstock Equestrian Park (Beallsville)
23 Hoyles Mill Conservation Park (Boyds)
26 Blockhouse Point Conservation Park (Darnestown)
4 Little Bennett Regional Park (Clarksburg)
5 Little Bennett Regional Park (Clarksburg)
6 Woodstock Equestrian Park (Beallsville)
7 Hoyles Mill Conservation Park (Boyds)
9 Rachel Carson Conservation Park (Olney)
10 Blockhouse Point Conservation Park (Darnestown)
11 North Germantown Greenway (Clarksburg)/Great Seneca SVP Unit 2(Gaithersburg)
12 Bennett Creek Conservation Park (Damascus)
14 Black Hill Regional Park: 10 Mile Creek Segment (Boyds) Bucklodge Forest Conservation Park (Boyds)
18 Little Bennett Regional Park (Clarksburg)
19 Little Bennett Regional Park (Clarksburg)
20 Hoyles Mill Conservation Park (Boyds)
3 Woodstock Equestrian Park (Beallsville)
4 Hoyles Mill Conservation Park (Boyds)
9 Bennett Creek Conservation Park (Damascus)
11 Black Hill Regional Park: 10 Mile Creek Segment (Boyds) Bucklodge Forest Conservation Park (Boyds)
17 Hoyles Mill Conservation Park (Boyds)
23 Bennett Creek Conservation Park (Damascus)
25 Hoyles Mill Conservation Park (Boyds)
31 Hoyles Mill Conservation Park (Boyds)
Park Police-based Sharpshooting Operation Locations 2020
Parks and Trails Closed, Feb. 1 – March 31 from Sunset – Sunrise, Monday-Friday
• Agricultural History Farm Park (Derwood - including attached segments of Rock Creek Stream Valley Units 15 & 16)
• Black Hill Regional Park Day Use Area
• Cabin John Regional Park (Bethesda)
• Laytonia Recreational Park (Gaithersburg)
• Martin Luther King Jr. Recreational Park (Silver Spring)
• Muncaster Recreational Park (Gaithersburg)
• Needwood Golf Course (Rockville)
• North Branch Stream Valley Park Units 2 & 3 (Norbeck)
• Northwest Branch Recreation Park (Aspen Hill - including Layhill Local Park in Wheaton)
• Northwest Branch Stream Valley Park Unit 4 (Silver Spring – including attached Kemp Mill Estates Local Park)
• Northwest Branch Stream Valley Park Unit 7 (Norwood)
• Northwest Golf Course (Wheaton)
• Paint Branch Stream Valley, Units 5&6 (Silver Spring - including Paint Branch Neighborhood Park, Pilgrim Hills Local Park, Tamarack Neighborhood Park and Valley Mill Special Park)
• Pope Farm Nursery (Gaithersburg)
• Red Door Store Historical Cultural Park (Olney)
• Rock Creek Regional Park (Rockville)
• Rock Creek Stream Valley Park Unit 2 (Chevy Chase)
• Rock Creek Stream Valley Park Unit 7 (Aspen Hill)
• Sligo Creek Golf Course (Silver Spring)
• Sligo Creek Stream Valley Park Unit 5 (Silver Spring– including attached Colt Terrace Neighborhood Park)
• Wheaton Regional Park (Wheaton)
• Woodlawn Special Park (Sandy Spring)
Animal Complaints or Emergencies: Dial 311
Animal emergencies and complaints in Montgomery County will be answered by Montgomery County Police Emergency Communications Center or MC311 call takers.
Montgomery County Animal Shelter: 240-773-5960
M-NCPPC Park Police (Montgomery County): 310-949-3010
Montgomery County Police: 301-279-8000
Maryland DNR Wildlife Division (M-F 8AM – 4:30PM): 301-258-7308
Maryland DNR Wildlife Division (after hours): 410-260-8888