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Deer Population Management Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Managed Deer Hunting and Park Police Sharpshooting Operations

PROPOSED ARCHERY PILOT PROGRAM FAQ | MANAGED DEER HUNTS FAQ | PARK POLICE SHARPSHOOTING OPERATIONS FAQ

NEW - Proposed Archery Pilot Program FAQs

M-NCPPC Montgomery Parks is proposing the addition of a Proposed Deer Management Archery Pilot Program to its already successful series of Managed Hunting Programs and Park Police-based Sharpshooting deer population management efforts. Public comments are welcome through 3pm, July 31, 2015.

What is the Archery Managed Deer Hunting Program Pilot Project?
The proposed Archery Managed Deer Hunting Pilot Project is a controlled archery deer hunt, using organized, insured hunting groups with experienced, proficient archery hunters operating under strict guidelines, for the purpose of reducing and/or maintaining deer population numbers on parklands for the benefit of natural ecosystems, local farmers, citizen landscapes, reducing Deer Vehicle Collisions (DVC's) and an overall reduction of deer human conflict.

Where is Archery Managed Deer Hunting being proposed to occur?
Two locations, covering three park units have been proposed for this pilot project.  They are Great Seneca Stream Valley Park Unit 1 (Germantown) and Watts Branch Stream Valley Park Units 1 & 2 (Potomac).  Hunting is proposed to occur in designated areas of the parks, only.  Hunting participants will be trained and supplied with maps and safety zones will be marked with signs in the field.

When is the proposed Archery Managed Deer Hunting Program Pilot Project to occur?
If approved, archery managed hunting activities will begin in September and run through November, 2015 (excluding overlapping State muzzleloader and firearms deer seasons).  Activities will close for the month of December and Resume for the duration of the month of January (excluding overlapping State muzzleloader and firearms deer seasons).

If approved, who will conduct Archery Managed Hunting activities for the purpose of this pilot project?
For the purpose of the proposed pilot project, established, insured hunting groups will be selected and utilized.  One qualified, organized group will be assigned to each affected park location.  Each individual qualified hunter within these groups will be required to: demonstrate having completed both a State Hunter Education/Safety Course and a State or National Bowhunter Education Foundation Bow Hunter Education/Safety Course, a history of archery hunting experience and record of success, current shooting proficiency under the standards and guidelines set forth by the Department of Parks, and must meet the requirements of a criminal background investigation.

If approved, how will archery managed hunting be conducted?
Hunting activities may occur daily, excluding Sundays, during the hours of ½ hour prior to legal sunrise and 1/2 hour post legal sunset.  Hunting will occur under strict guidelines in accordance with State and Local regulations pertaining to archery deer hunting, and within designated areas of the park.  Participants will be required to park in designated areas and hunt from a stationary, elevated treestand.  Shooting will be restricted to distances within 30 yards, and not from, onto, or across trails.  Discrete participation/activity will be advised, and deer will be covered during the process of removal from designated hunting areas.  NOTE: Parks will remain open to normal, everyday use by the public.

Should I be concerned about my personal safety and that of my family and pets?
While we always encourage responsible vigilance by our park users, there is no additional cause for concern regarding personal safety.  Statistics are clear that non-participant injuries resulting from archery hunting activities are all but non-existent.

Similar archery programs occur throughout Maryland, including within Montgomery County, and no personal injury to non-hunting participants have been reported. Montgomery Parks is committed to prioritizing public safety in its deer management efforts, and an Archery Managed Deer Hunting Program will follow in that manner.

Hunting will occur under strict guidelines, in accordance with State and Local regulations pertaining to archery deer hunting, and within designated areas of the park.  Participants will be required to hunt from a stationary, elevated position, located at least one hundred-thirty yards from any structure intended for human occupancy.  Weapons discharge is restricted to targets within a distance of 30 yards, and not from, onto, or across trails. 

NOTE: The chance of accidental injury to people or pets will be nearly impossible.  Nationally reported non-target species injuries by archery hunting, are often unlawful, and are considered intentional.  In cases of injury to domesticated animals, these reported incidents are considered malicious, despicable acts. Montgomery Parks will not tolerate such actions, and will seek the most ethical and proficient hunters for participation.  Participant equipment will be marked with unique identification to aid in determining responsibility for any such occurrences.

Why use Archery Managed Deer Hunting over another proven method?
The Department of Parks has been increasingly charged, with finding ways to broaden its management impact on deer populations, through program expansion.  We have found ourselves at a crossroads requiring us to look to the next practical tool in the toolbox.  This is especially true of population-dense communities near or surrounding parklands where safety or regulation, and/or access limitations, inhibit or even prohibit the use of deer management programming approaches requiring firearms discharge. After evaluation of existing options, and considering the management efforts of nearby jurisdictions, we believe this tool to be Archery Hunting. 

As the Department has researched and observed deer management efforts by other jurisdictions, locally, regionally and nationally, archery hunting has been identified as a safe, low community impact and efficient strategy for reducing and maintaining deer populations  to levels more acceptable to human priorities and land uses.  To date, archery hunting is being utilized as a management tool throughout Maryland (including Montgomery County) and Virginia on both the private landscape, as well as the public landscape by way of State and County government agencies.

Why isn't birth control being used to reduce deer populations in Montgomery Parks?
Non-lethal approaches to managing deer populations have been suggested by some as potential tools to be utilized in an effort to reduce deer impacts.  However, it has been determined that current materials and methods included in immunocontraception and surgical sterilization efforts, are not suitable for use on the large scale and widespread park areas of Montgomery County.   The Department of Parks continues to monitor non-lethal management research nationally and locally.  While we remain open to the possibility of one day employing the use of non-lethal methods for managing deer populations, we recognize that current limitations and constraints will not allow for practical, cost effective, and sustainable management using these tools as they exist at present. 

Is Archery Managed Deer Hunting humane?
Through selection and training of hunting participants, the Department of Parks is committed to making every effort to reduce the probability of wounding loss.  The goal of every managed hunting program is to experience no wounding loss.  With that in mind, the Department recognizes that perfection is unlikely.  As such, it is possible that wounding loss will occur at some level.  Other programs have shown varying rates of loss ranging from 3% - 17%.  These rates of unintended injury are consistent with other methods of lethal and non-lethal deer population management. It may also be worth noting that, in every case, deer experience some level of trauma leading to their death; whether by “natural causes” (e.g. predation, disease, malnutrition), or by accidents (e.g. vehicle strike, entrapment, farm equipment).  In addition, deer that are nearly killed by vehicles and/or predators often experience traumatic injury, but continue living.  Some recover fully, while others are highly impacted for the rest of their lives.  Deer experiencing wounding by hunting fall in line with these conditions. 

NOTE: The evolution of archery equipment is continual. Advancement has occurred and exponentially increases a hunter’s ability to achieve accurate shot placement. It is well understood that a properly placed arrow minimizes the potential for pain and suffering associated with the death of the animal. As such, training, regulations and guidelines have been established for participating hunters in order to maximize and perpetuate hunting and shooting ethics.

How and when will a decision be reached regarding the implementation of the proposed initiative?
Final public comments will be submitted to the office of the Director of Parks.  These comments, along with the recommendations of Wildlife Ecology and Park Police personnel, will be considered in the decision making process. 

Factors contributing to the decision include, but are not limited to: public safety interests, private property damage complaints, potential benefit to local, natural ecosystems, forest regeneration and deer herd health. In addition, community support of the proposed will be strongly considered as Departmental leadership renders a decision regarding implementation. Special consideration will be given to comments received from the communities directly adjacent to the selected management locations. A decision will be reached and announced at the beginning of August, 2015.

PROPOSED ARCHERY PILOT PROGRAM FAQ | MANAGED DEER HUNTS FAQ | PARK POLICE SHARPSHOOTING OPERATIONS FAQ

Managed Deer Hunts FAQs

What is a managed hunt?
A managed hunt is a controlled deer hunt for the purpose of reducing and or maintaining deer numbers on parklands for the benefit of natural ecosystems, local farmers, citizen landscapes, reducing Deer Vehicle Collisions (DVC’s) and an overall reduction of deer human conflict.

What is meant by a “Lottery-based Managed Hunt”?
A Lottery-based Managed Hunt simply means that hunters, who have applied and met the M-NCPPC qualifications for participation, are drawn at random for hunting dates and sites for which they have applied. This ensures a fair system for all participants.

What qualifies a hunter to participate in a managed hunt?
All managed hunt participants must complete a written Pre-screening Managed Hunt Packet (pdf. 773kb) delineating safety issues, personal experience and history, and personal motivations. As part of the pre-screening, participants must submit to a background check to ensure that they do not have a history of violent crime or DNR violations. If the questionnaire and background check are acceptable, the applicant may be approved to participate in the hunt lottery. If selected, the hunter must present: his/her Photo I.D., Hunter Safety Card, a current MD hunting license, and a State Shooter Qualification Card demonstrating his/her proficiency with the firearm they plan to use for the hunting program. Only then will the hunter be permitted to participate in the program.

What happens with the deer that are harvested during managed hunts?
When a deer is harvested in a managed hunt, it becomes the hunter’s responsibility to see that the deer is processed and consumed in an appropriate fashion. Usually, this entails one or more of the following: the hunter keeps the deer him/herself, and has it butchered or butchers the meat him/herself for personal use, the hunter butchers the deer and gives the meat to family members or acquaintances, or the hunter drops the deer off at a butcher shop to be donated to a charitable organization such as Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry (FHFH).

Why are some hunts closed to public participation?
There are some properties where it is not feasible to conduct a lottery style managed hunt for reasons such as access and limited acreage to allow for enough participants to justify a large staff contingent or other management implications. Also, wildlife staff is limited and must prioritize its time commitment to areas where public safety, park use, and other issues are greatest. In these cases we invite specially qualified deer management groups to conduct similar hunts with limited supervision from staff. These groups meet strict requirements for safety, operation, and harvest, and are assigned through the  Cooperative Managed Deer Hunting Program.

Isn’t there a better way to reduce deer human conflict than hunting?
There are many means either researched and/or practiced to reduce deer human conflicts that are showing varying levels of success. Depending on land uses, various methods can be employed such as: exclusionary fencing, chemical repellents, noise repellents, reflectors, other visual repellents and so on. Some of these methods can be effective at least some of the time and to varying degrees. However, there are often limiting factors such as local restrictions placed on landowners in terms of types of fencing or repellents used, overall cost to landowners and labor intensity, etc. Overall, the only method proven to be effective and efficient is lethal deer management. Simply stated, fewer deer equals fewer conflicts.

Have there ever been any major injuries as a result of the managed hunting program?
No, since its inception, the managed hunting program has been strictly monitored, and safety has remained paramount throughout. To date there have been no serious injuries to hunters or citizens. MNCPPC makes it abundantly clear that safety is the #1 priority, and that there is a zero tolerance level for any behavior that could result in serious, negligent injury.

Is Montgomery County the only county in Maryland that conducts managed hunts?
Howard County and Anne Arundel County conduct managed hunts. The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) and the Maryland DNR also run managed hunting operations on various Reservoir and State Park lands in nearby counties. Managed hunting programs are becoming increasingly common in similar urban/suburban areas throughout the country.

I would like an opportunity to comment on such programs. How can my voice be heard?
By reading this, you are taking the first step in learning about what is taking place! MNCPPC encourages all citizens to exercise their rights to voice their opinions. Simply call or write to your local, county and state officials and express your concerns. Your voice is important whether you are in support of current management practices or whether you oppose current management. Comment may also be submitted to the Department of Parks by e-mail at MCP-deermanagement@montgomeryparks.org.

How can I become a Managed Hunt participant?
If you are interested in participating in the lottery-based Management Deer Hunting Program, pre-screening procedures must be followed. New applicants can download the pre-screening application & information here: Pre-screening Managed Hunt Packet (PDF. 773kb). Further questions may be directed to Wildlife Staff at 301-962-1344.

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PROPOSED ARCHERY PILOT PROGRAM FAQ | MANAGED DEER HUNTS FAQ | PARK POLICE SHARPSHOOTING OPERATIONS FAQ

Park Police Sharpshooting Operations FAQs

What is the Park Police sharpshooting operation?
The Park Police sharpshooting operation uses specially trained, M-NCPPC Park Police officers to effectively and efficiently remove deer from areas that are not conducive to hunting.

What is a sharpshooter?
A sharpshooter, in terms of deer management, is a highly trained individual capable of lethally and efficiently removing a large number of deer, in a humane manner, using specialized equipment (noise suppressed rifles) over a short period of time and under conditions not suitable to hunting (i.e. under the cover of darkness and in areas too small for safe hunting practices).

What happens with all of the deer that are removed during these operations?
All deer are removed discretely, transported to a processing location and the meat donated to local food disbursement organizations via the Capital Area Food Bank.

Have past sharpshooting operations been successful?
Yes, they have been very successful. In fact, many residents are seeing a difference in the amount of damage to landscaping and agricultural crops, DVC’s have been shown to decrease in the areas surrounding operational sites, and forest regeneration is improving in and around the parks where operations have been underway for several seasons.

I would like an opportunity to comment on such programs. How can my voice be heard?
By reading this, you are taking the first step in learning about what is taking place! M-NCPPC encourages all citizens to exercise their rights to voice their opinions. Simply call or write to your local, county and state officials and express your concerns. Your voice is important whether you are in support of current management practices or whether you oppose current management. Comment may also be submitted to the Department of Parks by e-mail at MCP-deermanagement@montgomeryparks.org.

Last update: July 6, 2015