Sandy Point bow season postponed until next week Wednesday public meeting to consider need, impact

Outdoors

November 01, 1996|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

The Department of Natural Resources has postponed the opening of a special bow season for deer at Sandy Point State Park until next Friday to allow wildlife managers, hunters and the public to evaluate further the need for and impact of the hunt.

DNR officials said yesterday the decision to postpone was made late Tuesday. The hunt was scheduled to open today.

"In an earlier public meeting, we failed to explain all the ramifications of the hunt," said Joshua Sandt, director of DNR's Wildlife and Heritage Division. "So we want to delay and go back to the public -- hunters and non-hunters alike -- and answer all their questions."

The second public meeting is scheduled at the park on Wednesday from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

As proposed, the special hunt would allow seven adult-and-youth teams to bow hunt only from tree stands on 150 acres along the northwest border of the park each day through Jan. 31. No hunting would be allowed on Sundays, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve or Christmas.

Frank Branchini, executive director of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Anne Arundel County, is adamantly opposed to the hunt, the first in the history of the bayside park.

"First of all, there is no need for this deer hunt whatsoever. It is purely for recreation," said Branchini, who is helping to organize a rally in Annapolis tonight to demonstrate opposition to the proposed hunt. The rally is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Lawyer's Mall.

"Second, if there were a demonstrated problem with deer there, there are nonviolent ways to deal with it," said Branchini.

"[DNR's] answer is always killing animals."

Wendell Jones, assistant manager of the park, said yesterday that surveys taken by game biologists show that reducing the number of deer at the park would be beneficial.

According to Jones, development outside the park is pushing deer into the park, among the last large tracts of wooded habitat on the peninsula.

"We are not at critical mass," said Jones. "But why wait until you are and the problem is even greater."

Sandt said the increase in housing developments also means an increase in good deer habitat as homeowners landscape and garden.

"What you get when you clear woodland and put in a half-dozen houses, is edges where the sunlight allows lush vegetation to grow, which is what deer live off," said Sandt.

"They are creatures of the edges and because they are an adaptable animal -- they can bed down right next to the dog kennel and not get heartburn over it."

The deer population has been expanding in Maryland for several years, and because they have no natural predators in this area, game managers rely on hunting to limit the increase in numbers.

"Given that DNR is run by hunters and trappers, their solution to the problem is to kill animals," said Branchini. "But there are other ways to control the Sandy Point problem -- if a problem exists -- and contraception is probably the best way."

Sandt said contraception is feasible at this point only with confined populations of deer, where access to treated animals is possible on a regular basis.

"With open populations, those that are moving around, it is not feasible, because contraception will work only if you get to the animal each year," Sandt said.

To be eligible for the hunt, all hunters -- adults and juniors 16 or younger -- will be required to qualify with the bow they will use and prove they can place three of five arrows into a 9-inch pie plate from 25 yards away.

"Bow hunting is a particularly cruel way to hunt," Branchini said, "and to have inexperienced children doing it is ludicrous."

Pub Date: 11/01/96

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