DNR alters terms of white-tail deer hunt Adult-youth bow teams out

OUTDOORS

no hunting on weekends

November 09, 1996|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

The Department of Natural Resources said yesterday that a bow hunt for white-tail deer at Sandy Point State Park near Annapolis will be held this season, although the parameters of the hunt have been changed to reflect the concerns of people living near the park.

DNR Secretary John R. Griffin said the hunt, which will help control the park's expanding deer population, will be limited to five hunters per day on a previously unhunted, 150-acre tract near the northwest border of the 800-acre park.

The hunt is scheduled to open Wednesday, and will be limited to Monday through Friday through the end of the bow season on Jan. 31. The closure of hunting on Saturdays, Griffin said, is intended to avoid conflict with other park activities on the weekends.

Over the past two weeks, hunters, hunting opponents and concerned neighbors have discussed and argued about the hunt, which originally was proposed for seven two-person, adult-junior hunter teams per day.

Adults and juniors under the age of 16 were to have completed hunter safety courses, been licensed and have qualified with the weapons they would use in the hunt.

A number of people who attended a boisterous public meeting at the park Wednesday night were opposed to the focus of the hunt being on youth hunters, even though the youths were to be required to hunt with adult supervision.

"While we believe that young people who wish to learn to hunt should be encouraged to do so," said Griffin, "upon review, because of the public perception that young hunters are not as efficient and safe, we decided to drop the special youth provision and open the hunt to all licensed hunters."

Licensed and qualified junior hunters still would be eligible to participate in the hunt, Griffin said.

During two public information meetings and a demonstration at the statehouse in Annapolis, anti-hunting groups expressed doubt that a hunt was necessary to cull the park's deer population.

Griffin said yesterday there is "evidence that the deer herd is already impacting" the park and surrounding areas.

"If left to grow unchecked, the deer population will cause ecological damage," Griffin said, "including the loss of bird and small mammal populations, increased deer-car collisions and property damage to surrounding neighbors."

Safety concerns of neighbors of the park, some of whom said they were afraid stray arrows might harm children, pets and property, also are being addressed by DNR, Griffin said.

In addition to the elimination of Saturday hunting, before the hunt opens DNR personnel will redouble their efforts to mark off the hunting zone and a required 150-yard buffer zone between hunting areas and surrounding residences.

Hunters will be required to qualify at the park or another sanctioned site before they are permitted to hunt at Sandy Point. All hunters will be required to use tree stands, which ensure a downward shot at close range and thereby eliminate the possibility of stray arrows.

"We want the people concerned to know that we have heard their concerns -- from both sides," said Griffin, "and done our best to address them fairly."

Pub Date: 11/09/96

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