Montgomery Co.’s annual deer population control efforts will start in September

The 24th year of Montgomery County, Maryland’s deer population control plan will start next month and run through March 2021.

Hunters and sharpshooters who qualify to participate in the program will use shotguns and arrows to kill the deer, Montgomery Parks said in a statement Wednesday.

More than 20,000 deer have been killed over the years and the meat produced in the operation is used by the participants or donated to the Capital Area Food Bank. More than 300,000 pounds of deer meat has been donated.

The population management is designed to mitigate the impact the deer have on the environment and cut down on drivers hitting deer as they move about Montgomery County.

A program such as the one enacted by the county requires annual management to maintain a population that stays in balance with the available habitat and land required for human use, according to a news release from the county on Wednesday.

Ryan Butler, the Montgomery Parks wildlife ecologist, said the county’s mix of urban, suburban and agricultural land make a perfect habitat for a thriving deer population.

However, it also means the deer population grows without threats from natural predators.

The program is designed to enhance public safety and natural resources, Butler said.

The county reminds residents to keep an eye out for yellow and black caution signs that are posted near parks during the culling season. During the archery hunts, parks will stay open, but for the shotgun hunts, parks will be closed for a 24-hour period.

The schedules for the hunts are listed on the county’s website. They will be closed for a 24-hour period during the scheduled hunt.

The deer management program coincides with the period of the year when commuters are often on the road during low-light hours. The county reminds drivers of the following tips to prevent deer collisions:

  • Be alert for deer on or near roadways and take precautions.
  • 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.
  • Pay attention to deer crossing signs; these 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.

In February and March, Park Police sharpshooters will conduct hunts at certain parks while they’re closed.

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