Howard executive waiting to decide on deer hunts Ecker wants county report before he takes a position

November 10, 1998|By Erika Niedowski | Erika Niedowski,SUN STAFF

Bambi lives -- at least for the time being.

Seven weeks after Howard County parks and recreation officials requested a managed hunt to control the deer population in Middle Patuxent Environmental Area in Columbia, County Executive Charles I. Ecker has yet to take a position on the proposal.

"We have heard nothing further on the hunt," said Mark Raab, operations manager with the Land Management Division of the county Parks and Recreation Department. "There has been no official go-ahead, so we're still on hold at this time. Nothing has changed."

The state Department of Natural Resources has scheduled controlled hunts this fall and winter to reduce the statewide population of white-tailed deer, which damage crops and property and cause hundreds of traffic accidents each year.

But Ecker's spokeswoman said yesterday that he is awaiting completion of a county deer task force report that will outline a countywide plan for dealing with the problem. In August, county officials estimated the Middle Patuxent population at 106 deer per square mile -- three times the number considered acceptable.

John Byrd, the county's chief of parks and programming services, sent a letter to Ecker Sept. 22 asking for three two-week hunting sessions. The first two proposed hunts would have begun Oct. 12 and Nov. 2. The third would begin Jan. 4.

Byrd hopes that 50 hunters can shoot about 140 deer in Middle Patuxent Environmental Area on the western edge of Columbia. Last year, 26 hunters killed 65 deer there in a single two-week hunt.

Animal rights activists criticized county officials then -- and are doing so now -- saying more humane ways exist to reduce the deer population. But county officials say methods such as sterilization and relocation can be costly and ineffective.

Pub Date: 11/10/98

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