Hunters in four suburban counties were allowed to return to the woods yesterday afternoon, when Gov. Parris N. Glendening lifted the ban he imposed on Oct. 15 at the height of the sniper investigation.
The ban gutted the six-day early muzzleloader season in Anne Arundel, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George's counties. The season ends one-half hour after sunset today.
Paul Peditto, director of Wildlife and Heritage for the Department of Natural Resources, said sportsmen "took the high road. I've not heard any reports of hunters not complying."
Glendening instituted the ban on recreational shooting at the request of the four county executives, who were concerned that reports of gunfire would distract investigators from the sniper case. The order did not affect certified shooting ranges.
State wildlife managers are assessing options for extending the muzzleloader season to accommodate hunters and help control the deer population, Peditto said. Last year during the early season 1,600 deer were killed in the four counties
A proposal to extend the hunt must be approved by the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislation Review chaired by state Sen. Delores Kelley.
"At this point, we won't know for certain until Monday at the earliest," Peditto said.
Managed hunts in Howard County, which were halted during the investigation, will resume Nov. 6, with more dates likely to be added.