State's whitetail population growing by leaps and bounds

December 08, 1996|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

At the start of the 20th century, white-tailed deer in Maryland were few and limited to the remote, forested areas of the state. Now, on the threshold of the 21st century, the latest estimates put the state's deer population at more than 300,000.

In those 10 decades, much has changed.

Unregulated market hunting was abolished. The clear-cutting of expanses of forest has been curtailed. Millions of dollars in state and federal money have been spent to restore good habitat.

And the whitetail itself has adapted and proliferated to the point where wildlife biologists are concerned the herd soon will exceed the capacity of the land to feed and shelter it.

Tom Mathews, game program supervisor for the Department of Natural Resources, said recently that in all but the mountainous areas of the state's western counties, "the deer population is a problem."

According to wildlife biologists, white-tailed deer in good habitat can double their numbers in one to two years.

Doug Hotton, who oversees the state's deer management program, said recently that the management strategy needs to be looked at and perhaps extensively revised.

Now DNR and the Wildlife Advisory Committee propose to develop a comprehensive, statewide deer management plan with the help of the general public.

The aims of the management plan are to:

Ensure the present and future well-being of the species and its habitat;

Provide opportunities for hunters and non-hunters alike to encounter deer in their natural environment;

Allow for compatibility between deer populations and human land-use practices;

Ensure that other plant and animal communities are not overrun by an expanding population of white-tailed deer.

DNR has scheduled six public meetings in January open to all interested parties.

Jan. 7: Fort Hill High School, Cumberland, 7 p.m.

Jan. 9: Frederick High School, Frederick, 7 p.m.

Jan. 14: John Hanson High School, Waldorf, 6: 30 p.m.

Jan. 16: Dulaney High School, Timonium, 7 p.m.

Jan. 22: Bennett Middle School, Salisbury, 7 p.m.

Jan. 23: Frank Jarmon Post No. 36, American Legion, 7 p.m.

Deer hunt down

According to the Department of Natural Resources, preliminary counts for the opening day of the firearms season for deer were down across the state from last year.

County ............. 1995 ..... 1996 ..... diff. ..... pct.

Allegany ........... 1769 ..... 1288 ..... -481 ...... -27

Anne Arundel ....... 376 ...... 219 ...... -157 ...... -42

Baltimore .......... 723 ...... 722 ...... -1 ........ -1

Calvert ............ 383 ...... 312 ...... -71 ....... -19

LTC

Caroline ........... 288 ...... 273 ...... -15 ....... -5

Carroll ............ 643 ...... 648 ...... -5 ........ -1

Cecil .............. 559 ...... 422 ...... -137 ...... -25

Charles ............ 856 ...... 521 ...... -335 ...... -39

Dorchester ......... 1085 ..... 968 ...... -117 ...... -11

Frederick .......... 1218 ..... 1105 ..... -113 ...... -9

Garrett ............ 1136 ..... 857 ...... -279 ...... -25

Harford ............ 380 ...... 273 ...... -107 ...... -28

Howard ............. 334 ...... 217 ...... -117 ...... -35

Kent ............... 980 ...... 760 ...... -220 ...... -22

Montgomery ......... 468 ...... 346 ...... -122 ...... -26

Prince George's .... 258 ...... 186 ...... -72 ....... -28

Queen Anne's ....... 677 ...... 498 ...... -179 ...... -26

St. Mary's ......... 594 ...... 438 ...... -156 ...... -26

Somerset ........... 458 ...... 384 ...... -74 ....... -16

Talbot ............. 467 ...... 371 ...... -96 ....... -21

Washington ......... 1269 ..... 1001 ..... -268 ...... -21

Wicomico ........... 593 ...... 433 ...... -160 ...... -27

Worcester .......... 626 ...... 566 ...... -60 ....... -10

Total .............. 16140 .... 12798 .... -3342 ..... -21

Source: Department of Natural Resources

Pub Date: 12/08/96

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