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Proposed Deer Population Management Initiative for Cabin John Regional Park, Bethesda


The period for public comments on this proposal is now closed. Thank you for your valuable input.

Project Update

Montgomery Parks, announced the expansion of its deer management operations to include Cabin John Regional Park. The park, located in Potomac, has been selected to address damage caused by an increasing population of deer, including deer-related automobile accidents, damage to natural resources, and increased potential of communicable diseases such as Lyme disease. Recent estimates indicate deer population in this park is nearly four times the recommended density for an area this size. The decision to add this park to the deer management operations was made after review of citizen complaints and input, and with strong support from the community.

Highly trained and certified Park Police Sharpshooters will lethally remove deer from the park, under very stringent guidelines and in the most humane way possible. The deer management operation will take place when the park is closed to the public, from 6 p.m. through 6 a.m., from January 10 – February 28, 2014, and recur annually as necessary. Information about the hunts will be posted on signs throughout the park, on the Montgomery Parks’ website homepage and communicated via Park Police patrols. All deer harvested through the effort will be donated for consumption at local soup kitchens.

A more detailed description of the Department of Parks' deer management goals and programming, including the Park Police-based sharpshooting program is available here.

Project Description


Cabin John Regional Park locator map Cabin John Regional Park is being recommended for implementation of deer population management programming beginning January 2014. This site was selected because deer populations have reached levels in which deer related impacts, such as automobile accidents, damage to agricultural crops and private landscapes, damage to natural communities, and potential of communicable diseases, are in need of mitigation.

M-NCPPC Montgomery Parks has conducted deer density estimates in Cabin John Regional Park during the years 2011 through 2013. It is currently estimated that 100-125 individual deer utilize this parkland area of 514 acres; a deer density of 2.5 to 3 times higher, minimum, than recommended for this location.
The Department of Parks has received requests for, and support of, deer population reduction efforts on these parklands from property owners of the affected area.

Cabin John Regional Park is among 26 other parks in the Montgomery Parks’ system selected for managed hunts during the fall 2013– 14 season. Park Closure Dates and locations for upcoming deer management operations including Lottery-based Managed Deer Hunts, Cooperative Managed Deer Hunts and Park Police-based Sharpshooting Operations vary.

The Proposed Initiative

Located in southern Montgomery County, Cabin John Regional Park (Bethesda) is recreational space inviting a wide variety of active and passive recreation activities. The parkland is surrounded by residential and commercial development. The Department of Parks has received a request to implement deer population management from citizens of the affected area.

The proposal suggests implementing Park Police-based sharpshooting of deer in this park. This program utilizes highly trained and certified Law Enforcement Officers to remove deer at night, when the park is closed to the public, during the months of January and February, annually as required.

During this operation, park closure to the public will be strictly enforced from 6:00 pm until 6:00 am, Monday through Friday, January 10 through February 28. Public notice of such activities and park closure will be posted throughout the park, on our website, and Park Police patrol will be provided to keep citizens informed. Deer removal will occur at pre-selected sites selected to ensure public safety and safe weapons discharge. All deer harvested through this effort will be processed and donated to charity for use at local soup kitchens.

A more detailed description of the Department of Parks' deer management goals and programming, including the Park Police-based sharpshooting program is available here.

Public Input

M-NCPPC Montgomery Parks encouraged public comment on the proposed initiative until 3:00pm on Friday, October 25, 2013. The decision regarding the proposal was made by the Department’s Administration and staff following review of public comment and associated data. All public comments were given consideration in the decision making process.

A summary of all public comments for this initiative is available for review. .

Media Center

As they become available, press releases, news articles and items of interest will be listed here and the Parks Media Center.

  • MEDIA ADVISORY: Thursday, September 26th, 2013 - Montgomery Parks Announces Seasonal Park Closures for Annual Deer Management Operations
  • ONLINE ARTICLE: Wednesday, October 02, 2013 - Deer management begins in county parks
  • ONLINE ARTICLE: Monday, October 14, 2013 - The Takoma Park Patch has an article about driver safety tips related to deer mating season.
  • ONLINE ARTICLE: Monday, November 4, 2013 - WJLA, Managed deer hunts spark controversy in D.C. area
  • ONLINE ARTICLE: Wednesday, December 4, 2013 - Md. lawmaker wants to let archer hunters shoot bows at deer closer to occupied homes
  • MEDIA ADVISORY: Tuesday, December 17, 2013 - Montgomery Parks Approves Deer Management For Cabin John Regional Park To Begin January 10, 2014

Project Contact

back to top - Last update: December 30, 2013