Deer hunts set by state

Two communities to repeat event after success in past years

`We've made ... progress'

Opposition fades to managed control of suburban herd

January 06, 2002|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

State officials will conduct managed deer hunts this month at two waterfront communities near Annapolis in an attempt to control the deer population in neighborhoods where residents have found the animals to be a nuisance.

It's the third hunt for Sherwood Forest and the second for nearby Saefern, two affluent neighborhoods on the Severn River.

Organizers say the events, scheduled for Jan. 22 and Jan. 25, have become somewhat routine after a rocky start three years ago in Sherwood Forest, when some residents protested the hunt.

"The first year there were some people that were opposed to it who were vocal at that time," said Bart Key, manager of the Sherwood Forest Club, the community's governing body. "Last year was considerably quieter, and nothing this year at all."

In the first two Sherwood Forest hunts, 34 deer were killed - 22 in 1999, and 12 last year. Hunters in Saefern took five deer last year, according to state officials.

"I think the general feeling is that we've made some progress," Key said, adding that the deer seem to be causing fewer problems.

"We've all accepted the fact that this is not a one-time thing. It's something that has to be done over a period of time," he said.

The state Department of Natural Resources stages hunts when communities ask for assistance in controlling deer populations.

Hunters are chosen by lottery and must meet hunting safety and shooting standards to participate.

"The hunts are conducted at the request of communities that have thoroughly evaluated the deer situation and determined that the majority of people think there needs to be less deer and hunting is the appropriate way to do that," said John Surrick, a department spokesman. "It's not something we impose on anyone."

Deer control options

The department manages hunts throughout the state. But Surrick said most take place in suburban areas where deer make meals out of gardens and residents worry about Lyme disease and the danger of deer wandering into traffic.

When a community requests a managed deer hunt, Surrick said, wildlife experts make sure that residents are aware of nonlethal population-control options. Even if the hunt goes forward, state officials ask residents to use other means of controlling deer, such as spraying plants with deer repellent and installing fences to keep them out of gardens.

"When a community comes to us, we want to make sure they're educated about the variety of management options," Surrick said.

Key said that Sherwood Forest is easily accessible to deer because of the community's proximity to a large expanse of woods.

"The deer can be in the woods one minute and eating things underneath your window the next," he said.

Residents studied problem

Sherwood Forest requested a managed deer hunt in 1999 after a panel of residents had studied the problem for a year. Residents of the 361-home forested community, about three miles north of Annapolis, approved the hunt, even though hunting is not allowed normally.

According to the panel's research, which included a deer count from a helicopter, the approximately one-square-mile community had a population of 100 deer. DNR officials said that a population density of 20 to 40 deer per square mile is excessive.

"We didn't do this without a lot of forethought and a lot of concern," Key said of the hunt.

He said no subsequent deer counts have been made, but that resident complaints about deer seem to be down.

"Members know we're trying to deal with it, so they may not be as vocal as they were," Key said.

Saefern's homeowners' association approached DNR officials about a managed deer hunt after the first one at Sherwood Forest, Surrick said.

Lottery selects hunters

This year's two-day hunt will be open to 20 shotgun hunters a day at Sherwood Forest and 12 a day at Saefern, which is about a mile south of Sherwood Forest.

To be considered, hunters must submit a Southern Maryland managed deer hunt application by Tuesday from the "Guide to Hunting and Trapping in Maryland 2001-2002." The lottery will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at DNR's Myrtle Grove office in La Plata. Selected hunters will be notified by mail.

Hunting is limited to designated areas, and hunters must use tree stands at least 10 feet above the ground. Hunting will be permitted from a half-hour before sunrise until 1 p.m.

Applications may be sent to DNR's Wildlife Service, 5626 Myrtle Grove Road, La Plata 20646. Information: 301-743-5161.

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