Prince George's County Department of Parks and Recreation
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Deer Management

Many people in Prince George’s County enjoy watching white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and consider this wildlife species a valuable part of nature. In recent years, the number of deer have increased to a level that has many Prince George’s County residents taking notice. Citizens are becoming more concerned about deer-human conflicts (such as deer-vehicle collisions and the potential spread of Lyme disease), forest degradation, frustrated by deer browsing their landscaping and vegetable gardens, and agriculture damage. Many feel that the time for management has come.

Several factors have contributed to the regional population growth of deer. Deer prefer “edge” habitats where forests meet fields. Suburban areas with numerous lawns adjoining to patches of forests provide great deer habitat. In addition to favorable habitat in Prince George’s County, the deer population has been able to grow in the absence large predators and a significant hunting presence to keep the population in check throughout much of the County. This has resulted in a high number of deer-vehicle collisions, concerns about Lyme disease, damage to residential gardens and landscaping, and the degradation of forests.

The Need for Deer Management

The deer population size in Prince George’s County has reached a level that many citizens consider to be too high. If left unchecked, the continued overpopulation of deer will result in the increase of deer-related conflicts. There are a number of tools and non-lethal tactics (such as public education, fencing, etc) used to help alleviate the conflicts created by deer overpopulation, but few of these practices actually address the cause of the problems. With deer populations having the potential to double every two years, there is a need to address the main source of these problems and reduce the number of deer.

A deer management program is needed in Prince George’s County to reduce deer populations to a level that is acceptable to County residents while still keeping deer a treasured part of the natural ecosystem. Deer management programs are becoming common across the country and the state of Maryland. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Montgomery County Department of Parks (M-NCPPC), Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks, Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks, and Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission all implement deer management programs on select properties.

Population Surveys

Since 2010, infra-red trail camera surveys have been used to estimate the deer population size at select park sites. The recommended deer density is 20 deer per square mile. Park properties that are estimated to have significantly higher deer densities than what is recommended are considered for deer management.

Deer-Vehicle Collisions

In partnership with Prince George’s County Animal Control, deer-vehicle collision data has been gathered to show where roadkill deer carcasses are collected. From 2011 to 2013, there were 2101 carcasses picked up by Animal Control from mostly county roads. Click here to download DVC map. Also during this time, Maryland State Highway Administration reported an additional 914 carcasses removed from state highways. The true number of deer-vehicle collisions is believed to be even higher. This data does not include unreported carcasses or deer that survive a vehicle collision.

Here are some driving tips to help prevent striking a deer with your vehicle:

  • DRIVE THE SPEED LIMIT. Slower driving speeds give you and the deer more time to react.
  • Deer are more active from dusk to dawn. Be cautious when driving during these times.
  • The fall breeding season (October-December) has the highest occurrence of deer-vehicle collisions. Deer activity increases during the breeding season as male deer seek females to mate.
  • Look for the eye shine of deer when driving at night.
  • Pay attention to stretches of roads with deer crossing signs.
  • Deer tend to travel in groups. If one deer is observed crossing the road, drive slowly and look for more deer.

Public Hunting and Park Police-Based Sharpshooting

Since 1986, the Department of Parks and Recreation has allowed for public bow hunting for white-tailed deer at select rural parks in partnership with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. To learn more about public hunting, click here.

Beginning in January 2015, a Park Police-based sharpshooting program will be implemented to reduce the deer populations where public bow hunting is not feasible.  Sharpshooting activities will take place at night from January 1 – March 31. 

Deer are removed safely, discreetly, and humanely. All deer harvested through this program will be donated to local food banks to feed those locally in need.  To learn more the park police-based sharpshooting program, click here.

We Want to Hear from You

As of December 1, 2014, public comments are no longer being accepted.

Click here to view submitted comments.

Links and Resources

Several surrounding jurisdictions operate successful deer population management programs, including M-NCPPC's Montgomery County Parks Department.

Please find links below to learn more about deer population management operations:

For information about non-lethal management options, see the following:
http://dnr.maryland.gov/wildlife/Hunt_Trap/deer/deer_damage/ddmtintro.asp
http://www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife/Hunt_Trap/deer/deer_damage/index.asp

For information about Lyme Disease, see the following:
http://dnr.maryland.gov/parkquest/pdfs/lymediseasefactsheet.pdf

Contact Us

For questions, please email DeerManagement@pgparks.com or call 301-627-7755.