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 Lyme disease), frustrated by deer browsing their landscaping and vegetable gardens, agriculture damage, and forest degradation. 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 meets 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 of a significant predator and hunting presence to keep the population in check in 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 tactics used to help treat the effects of deer overpopulation (such as public education, fencing around gardens, etc), 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.
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 see DVC map. Also during this time, Maryland State Highway Administration reported 914 carcasses removed from state highways. The true number of deer-vehicle collisions is believed to be much 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:
Since 1986, the Department of Parks and Recreation has allowed for public bow hunting for white-tailed deer at select parks in cooperation with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. To learn more click here.
Park Police-Based Sharpshooting
In order to reduce deer populations and alleviate the problems associated with high deer densities, The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission Department of Parks and Recreation will conduct Park Police-based sharpshooting on select park properties. The sharpshooting program will be implemented from January 1 – March 31.
The sharpshooting program is designed with public safety as the top priority. Sharpshooting activities will operate from 5:30pm to sunrise when parks are closed to the public. The sharpshooting will be directed and supervised by the Department’s Park Police Division and Park Ranger Unit. Officers participating in this program have received extensive specialized training. Weapons will only be discharged when a safe shot is present. Shots will be fired in a safe manner when a safe foreground and background to the target exists.
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.
We Want to Hear from You
The Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation encourages public comment on a proposed deer management program to cull the deer population at Enterprise Golf Course, Henson Creek Stream Valley Park, and Oxon Hill Manor.
Public comments are accepted. All public comments must include a full name and home address to be given consideration in the decision-making process. To submit a comment, please click on the one of the following:
Deer Population Management Proposals:
M-NCPPC Park Ranger Unit- Deer Management Program
Click here to view submitted comments.
Public Information Meetings
Public information meetings will be held Wednesday, Feb. 19, 7 pm, at Southern Regional Technology and Recreation Complex and Thursday, March 20, 7 pm, at Largo/Kettering/Perrywood Community Center.
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:
Maryland Department of Natural Resources
For questions, please email DeerManagement@pgparks.com or call 301-627-7755.