Neighbors concerned by deer hunt permit

Residents fear danger posed by stray shots and wounded animals

October 11, 1999|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,SUN STAFF

A suburban Pikesville woman has obtained a permit to kill deer in her yard, prompting neighbors to question the safety of such a hunt.

The permit, which allows hired hunters to use bows and arrows to cull antlerless deer from a troublesome herd, has been issued for a 2.59-acre parcel in the Garrison Farms community in Green Spring Valley.

Many in Garrison Farms favor the plan. Like suburbanites throughout Maryland and the nation, they are fed up with deer destroying plants and shrubs and venturing into the path of cars.

Others are concerned that errant shots might pose a danger to those living in the community of large ranch houses on 2 1/2- to 3-acre lots.

"I don't think you should be hunting deer in a residential neighborhood," said resident Harry Mandell. The most experienced hunters sometimes miss, Mandell said, adding, "Who's to say a child on a bicycle might not be going by?"

Records show a "crop damage permit" was issued to Paula Farbman of the 3600 block of Anton Farms Road. Such permits are issued to allow property owners to kill deer outside of hunting season, officials said. Last year, more than 9,000 deer were killed in Maryland under the program.

"The intent of the crop damage permit is to reduce commercial agricultural damage," said Clif Horton, a state wildlife biologist.

However, permits have been issued within residential areas. Under current regulations, state wildlife officials use their discretion to determine whether damage caused by deer justifies such a permit.

Horton said a task force has proposed changes in regulations that would allow the permits to be issued only for properties of 15 acres or larger to combat "economic loss to commercial agricultural crops" caused by deer.

Farbman's permit, which expires at the end of January, states that plants have been damaged. It was unclear when the two "authorized shooters" listed would begin hunting, or how many deer they are allowed to kill.

Farbman declined to discuss the matter, other than to say that many in the neighborhood were curious about plans for the hunt because of the area's extensive deer problem.

According to Mandell and his wife, Judy, who attended a recent meeting, residents were told that two off-duty police officers would be retained to kill deer on the property with bow and arrow only.

The property is within Baltimore County's "metropolitan district," where firing rifles, shotguns and crossbows is prohibited. State regulations prohibit hunting within 150 yards of an occupied house without the owner's permission.

The Mandells said residents questioned whether a wounded deer might flee the hunting site and traumatize neighborhood children. "If a deer got shot by a bow and arrow, there is the possibility [the deer] could go through somebody's window," said Harry Mandell.

But Pearl Silberman, a neighbor of the Farbmans, said she welcomes the effort -- and that she might apply for a similar permit. The deer make driving unsafe, and they have ravaged her garden, she said.

"I had such gorgeous hostas in the back. They're all gone," she said. As for safety concerns, she said, "The people who are going to handle this are not fly-by-night. It can be handled."

The split within the neighborhood is illustrated by a division within at least one household.

Charles Cahn said he is not opposed to the hunt. He's seen herds of up to 15 deer cause damage in the neighborhood.

But his wife, Amy, who is against the plan, said she and neighbors moved to the area to enjoy the wildlife.

"We like to see the animals drop by once every blue moon," she said.

Pub Date: 10/11/99

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