Controlled deer hunts approved in Baltimore Co. public parks

Council also revokes approved PUD for first time ever

May 02, 2011|By Raven L. Hill, The Baltimore Sun

Controlled deer hunts can take place in certain Baltimore County parks, but under tighter conditions than originally proposed, according to a bill approved Monday by the County Council.

Seeking to frame the bill as part of a broader strategy to control the overflowing deer population, council members deleted some references to hunting from the bill in favor of "deer cooperator program." County officials will also explore other methods of deer control including sterilization. The bill clearly states that it is not intended to allow open season in county parks — requiring any hunt to be conducted at night under the supervision of the state Department of Natural Resources. The parks would be closed to the public during the hunt.

The bill, sponsored by Republicans Todd Huff and David Marks, passed 6-1, with Councilwoman Vicki Almond, a Pikesville Democrat, voting against it.

Almond said many of her constituents were against the bill. They sent several emails and requested meetings to discuss their concerns, she said.

"Sometimes you have to remember they're the ones who put me here. The majority said 'no,' so I didn't vote for it."

The amendments were crafted by the remaining council members.

"Our job is to find middle ground amid contentious issues," Marks said.

Other requirements include providing public notice at least two weeks before a hunt and ensuring that all venison would be processed and donated locally when feasible.

A study conducted by the county Commission on Environmental Quality found that deer were causing severe damage in some parks — notably at Oregon Ridge in Cockeysville — leading to devastated greenery, and potentially increasing the spread of Lyme disease.

According to the commission, a healthy deer population at Oregon Ridge would be about 10 to 15 deer per square mile; the current population is eight times that size.

In other matters, for the first time ever, the council revoked a previously approved planned unit development in Catonsville known as Thistle Landing, located on the south side of Frederick Road west of Thistle Road.

The development on the 1.45-acre site was approved by the council last October. Concerns later emerged from county agencies about environmental issues.

Councilman Tom Quirk, a Catonsville Democrat, said he has nothing against the developer, property owner or the process, but said he did not believe the proposed townhouse development was the best fit for the site.

"It's a tough piece of property," Quirk said. "My decision was truly based on the merit of the land use. PUDs are a great tool, but they have to be quality projects."

Quirk said he is willing to discuss alternatives with the developer.

The council also unanimously approved Andrea Van Arsdale as planning director and the creation of a commercial revitalization district in Perry Hall.

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