Special deer season is proposed Worcester County population booms


Within the next two weeks, the Department of Natural Resources will announce proposed dates and limits for the 1991-92 deer seasons.

According to Josh Sandt, supervisor of the Forest, Park and Wildlife Service forest game program, those proposals are a mixed bag of regulations designed to stabilize a statewide deer population that has been steadily growing for a decade in spite of increasing kill rates.

"One of the things we are proposing is a January [1992] season in Worcester County, where we know we have been unable to control the population with our normal seasons," Sandt said.

Several years ago, a similar program was used in Dorchester County and was effective. The special 1992 season in Worcester would be held on the last Friday and Saturday of the month.

Sandt said similar programs may be initiated in other counties in future years.

For the coming season, changes in regulations also are due for Southern Maryland, where the deer population is expanding quickly.

"We are going to change some of the second deer [regulations]," Sandt said. "It would become two deer down there of either sex. In past years, the second deer had to be a buck only."

In Frederick County, there is a move to allow only shotguns for deer hunting.

The changes proposed in Southern Maryland and Frederick County, Sandt said, are related to the expanding human population, as well as the growing number of deer.

"Deer are super-adaptable animals," Sandt said. "One of the biggest problems that we have [in Southern Maryland and Frederick County] is that they will move in with a housing development, especially low-density housing, and then we have a hard time harvesting that population because of firearms restrictions."

In the more populated areas of the state, shotguns usually are required because their range and power is less than that of rifles.

Also, as more land is developed, there are fewer large tracts of private land available to be hunted, and an estimated 90 percent of the annual deer harvest comes on private land.

To offset those factors, Sandt said, hunting regulations will be eased.

At present, there are no plans to revamp regulations in Western Maryland.

Compounding the problem of the expanding deer population throughout the state, Sandt said, have been the mild winters of the past six or seven years.

"Given the weather, there will be virtually no over-winter mortality, which we don't have a lot of anyway," Sandt said. "But, with the mild conditions, deer are able to feed all winter, and therefore don't go into the spring with a deficit as far as body condition goes. They go into spring with a surplus.

"That means that just about every doe coming in this spring is in good condition, and the chances of even twins coming out the first breeding cycle increases, and their survivability increases because the female is in good shape and produces a lot more milk."

Offsetting that baby boom, Sandt said, will require increased targeting of antlerless deer.

"From our standpoint and the landowners' standpoint, it is preferable to harvest antlerless deer," Sandt said. "But some of the hunters, they feel that any antlerless deer you kill, you are taking away the breeding stock."

The FPWS still is counting its totals from the bow season that ended recently, but Sandt said the harvest may set a record for Maryland.

Overall, counting firearms, muzzleloader and bow seasons, Sandt said the total harvest may come close to the record total of 44,935 taken in 1989-90.

To surpass the 1989-90 total, bow hunters would have to account for some 1,500 more deer than were harvested by bow last year.

* The meeting of the Striped Bass Advisory Board in Annapolis scheduled for tomorrow night has been postponed to Monday.

Deer dates

Tentative opening days Sept. 16 Bow season opens

Nov. 30 Firearms season opens

Dec. 17 Muzzleloader season opens

Schedule of public hearings (Sites and times to be announced) March 18 Hagerstown

March 19 Bel Air

March 21 Cambridge

March 22 Annapolis

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