Expansion of Patapsco bow-hunting area cut DNR seeks to appease foes of deer control plan


In a compromise plan that seeks to calm the fears of neighbors of the Patapsco Valley State Park, state Department of Natural Resources officials announced yesterday they will cut 1,000 acres from the new areas proposed for bow-and-arrow deer hunters at the park.

As part of this modified plan, officials also are limiting the number of days that bow-and-arrow hunters can chase deer in the new areas to Wednesday through Saturday. They originally had proposed allowing such hunting six days a week.

Bow-and-arrow hunters still will be allowed to hunt Monday through Saturday on the 1,200 acres that have been open to them on the Carroll County side of the park since 1991. Bow-and-arrow deer hunting season begins today and runs through Jan. 31.

The expanded area -- about 1,600 acres on the Howard County side of the park -- will not open for hunting until Oct. 15.

Another 1,000 acres of the park in Baltimore County -- which had been proposed as one of the areas for bow-and-arrow deer hunting -- will not be opened to hunters, officials said.

Natural Resources officials said they will accept residents' comments about specific boundaries, number of hunters and enforcement issues through Oct. 1.

"In an effort to be a good neighbor, to compromise, we've reduced the amount of acreage and reduced the number of days allowed for bow hunting," said Lt. Christopher Bushman, a deputy regional manager in DNR's central region.

"People were expressing some concerns" about safety, Bushman said. "The fact remains that we consider it an absolutely safe program, and we're not going to change our stand on that."

In part, the move to expand the hunting area is an effort to control the park's soaring deer population.

Nearby residents as well as horse riders, hikers and bicyclists voiced concerns about the state's original proposal to expand the bow-and-arrow hunting area in the 14,000-acre park that straddles Howard, Carroll and Baltimore counties from the current 1,200 acres to about 3,800 acres.

Much of the concern came from the 600-member League of Maryland Horsemen, which is based at the park. Members often ride through the Baltimore County side of the park, so Natural Resources officials decided to cut that section out of the expanded bow-hunting area.

That hasn't satisfied nonhunters.

"In my view, it's a tragedy," said Donald Gill of Marriottsville, who lives near the park. "There should be no bow hunting south of the river. It's a highly used area. It's despicable."

Gloria Jasper, secretary for the League of Maryland Horsemen, said. "I wish they had another alternative. We greatly understand that [the deer population] is a problem but the bow hunting is not going to be that effective with the numbers of deer."

Other residents said yesterday they were relieved that the amount of parkland for hunting had been reduced.

"I'm glad they reduced the hunting area. That was my concern," said Meredith Jones, a Marriottsville resident who rides her horse through the park, which is just a mile from her home.

The expanded hunting program includes:

* About 600 acres at the park's Steiner tract.

* About 500 acres at the River Road tract.

* About 400 acres at the Sorenson tract.

* About 100 acres at the Hollofield tract.

The compromise doesn't appear to have angered hunters.

Bill Blamberg, co-owner of Clyde's Sport Shop in Lansdowne, said the key is that state officials view bow hunting as safe and are trying to open more parkland to the hunters.

"Bow hunters aren't outraged or anything like that," Blamberg said. "They're disappointed. They would like to have more parkland. But it's a start."

Blamberg and wildlife experts say expanding bow hunting will help control the park's deer population.

An excess of deer is a statewide problem, particularly for farmers and motorists. Wildlife experts estimate the state has more than 235,000 deer. Almost 62,000 deer were killed last season, compared with about 51,000 the year before.

"There's just an awesome deer population," said Al Geis of Howard County, a wildlife biologist and research director for the Wild Bird Centers of America. "And one of the worst locations is Patapsco State Park."

Pub Date: 9/14/96

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