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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We Want to Hear from You
As of December 1, 2014, public comments are no longer being accepted.
Links and Resources
Several surrounding jurisdictions operate successful deer population management programs, including M-NCPPC's Montgomery County Parks Department.
For information about Lyme Disease, see the following:
For questions, please email DeerManagement@pgparks.com or call 301-627-7755.