DNR finalizes four-zone plan for deer control Outdoors

On The Outdoors

July 05, 1998|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

The Department of Natural Resources has finalized its proposed hunting regulations for the 1998-1999 and 1999-2000 seasons, including a new four-zone deer plan expected to help biologists manage whitetail populations more effectively across the state.

The state's new approach to deer management was first presented to the public early this year and then discussed in detail at a series of five public meetings in March.

DNR Secretary John R. Griffin said the final proposals "have been modified in response to citizens' " comments, as well as legislation enacted by the 1998 session of the General Assembly.

The final proposals will be published in the Maryland Register for a 30-day public comment period.

The Wildlife Advisory Commission, which serves as a liaison between DNR and hunters, conservation organizations and the general public, has endorsed the proposed seasons for this year.

The most radical changes concern management of whitetail deer, which game managers say are at an all-time high in most of the state and increasing. According to DNR, the deer population is relatively stable only in rural areas, especially in Western Maryland.

To counteract the population explosion, "liberal bag limits have been proposed to facilitate first a stabilization of the deer populations across the state, then a gradual adjustment of the populations [in most cases down] to an acceptable range for the social and environmental conditions of a given area."

The adjustment of deer numbers traditionally and most effectively has been through hunting, and the new deer plan sets independent bag limits in each of the four new zones.

Properly licensed hunters may hunt any or all zones in any or all legal seasons and take a limit of deer in each. The combined whitetail limit for bow, muzzleloader and modern firearms seasons in all four zones is 36, counting a full complement of whitetails taken with bonus deer stamps.

While that might seem an extraordinary possibility for an avid deer hunter, DNR says "the creation of separate bag limits for different sections of the state will enhance efforts to tailor deer management for the needs of local communities."

The major changes for each of the new zones:

Region A (Garrett and Allegany counties and Zone 2 of Washington County). One whitetail per season, or two per season with bonus stamps.

The last two days (Jan. 1-2, 1999) of muzzleloader season will be open to hunting either sex deer. Telescopic sights will not be legal in this region during any part of the muzzleloader season.

A limited number of bonus antlerless-deer stamps will be available through a lottery and entitle the holder to one antlerless deer above the regular bag limit. The bonus deer could be taken either during the last two days of the modern firearms season or in the late muzzleloader segment.

Region B (Carroll County and Zone 1 of Frederick and Zone 1 of Washington counties). One whitetail per season, or two with bonus stamps.

Antlerless-deer permits will not be required to take antlerless deer in Zone 1 of Frederick County. Hunting either sex deer will be permitted during the first week (Nov. 28-Dec. 5, 1998) of the two-week modern firearms season. Hunting either sex will be permitted during the early muzzleloader season (Oct. 22, 23, 24, 1998). Telescopic sights will be legal throughout muzzleloader season in Region B.

Region C (Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Frederick (Zone 2), Howard, Montgomery and Prince George's counties). One whitetail per season or as many as four per season with bonus stamps.

The regular bag limit for each deer season (bow, muzzleloader and firearms) will remain one per season, but hunters can buy three additional bonus deer stamps per season, giving a possible total of four deer per season, or 12 overall.

Hunters must take two antlerless deer per season before they can take a second antlered deer in the same season. Telescopic sights will be legal throughout the muzzleloader seasons in Region C.

Region D (Calvert, Caroline, Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Harford, Kent, Queen Anne's, Somerset. St. Mary's, Talbot, Wicomico and Worcester counties). One whitetail per season, or as many as four per season with bonus stamps.

The regular bag limit for each of three deer seasons is one, but hunters can buy three additional bonus deer stamps per season for a total of four deer per season or 12 overall. Hunters must take two antlerless deer per season before they can take a second antlered deer in the same season. Telescopic sights will be legal throughout the muzzleloader seasons in Region D.

There are no longer any special bag limits for Dorchester County.

Sika deer changes

Sika deer, small elk brought into Maryland from Asia at the turn of the century, can be hunted only in Dorchester, Wicomico, Worcester and Somerset counties on days that coincide with whitetail seasons across the state. Bag limits on sika, however, are separate from those for whitetails.

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