Rockville OKs managed hunt to control deer population

3 deer are pictured
FILE — Managed hunts aim to control the growing deer problem. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)

The city of Rockville, Maryland, has approved a pilot program that will use bow hunters to cull deer at the city’s Redgate Golf Course property on Avery Road.

The vote this week to test the pilot program came after decades of study by Rockville.

The city has previously debated other strategies, such as using birth control or sterilization. Those methods have been tested in other communities across the country.

On Monday, the mayor and city council approved the plan to allow a managed hunt from Sept. 6 to Nov. 20, 2020.

Some members of the council expressed reservations about hunting as a method to deal with the deer population in the city’s limits.

But the idea earned support from some residents.

“We must cull the herd and it must be with bow hunting,” said Mark Grossman, a resident of the College Gardens neighborhood.

He described a recent incident in which he saw a police officer in his neighborhood preparing to shoot a 10-point buck that had broken its leg. Grossman said the officer had knocked on doors in the area to explain his actions.

“Now, I applaud that officer,” Grossman said. “He was trying to put an animal that was suffering out of its misery.”

He added, “I don’t think our police resources should be going towards putting deer out of their misery. But yet they have to because we have so many. Our population is profoundly too large.”

Steve Mader, Rockville’s superintendent of parks and facilities, explained that the city had been studying how to manage the deer population since 1995, including tracking the population size.

Bow hunting “is not the most efficient” method to cull the deer population, “but it is the safest,” Mader said.

He added, “We require all hunters to hunt from elevated tree stands, so all their shooting would occur at an elevation pointed down.”

Mader also said there is a selection process and requirements for safety zones — all part of state requirements for managed hunts, outlined by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Below is a map showing the location of the golf course property where the deer hunting is set to take place:

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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