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Deer Management

Shar­ing our envi­ron­ment with wildlife can some­times be chal­leng­ing for both us and them.

Deal­ing with Deer/Human Con­flict
Howard County’s Com­pre­hen­sive Deer Man­age­ment plan addresses actions that can help reduce deer-human con­flicts but can­not elim­i­nate them. Deer are very adapt­able ani­mals and will con­tinue to thrive in Howard County. Here are some ways to help reduce and pre­vent deer problems.

Dam­age to Agri­cul­tural Crops, Gar­dens and Orna­men­tal Plant­i­ngs
Dam­age pre­ven­tion alter­na­tives for home­own­ers and agri­cul­tur­al­ists include mechan­i­cal noise pro­duc­ing devices, chem­i­cal repel­lents, and fenc­ing. Home­own­ers can choose to land­scape their prop­erty with plants that are not favored by deer. Farm­ers expe­ri­enc­ing crop dam­age are encour­aged to open their land to hunt­ing and/or obtain deer man­age­ment per­mits to reduce the num­ber of deer on their prop­erty. For infor­ma­tion on estab­lish­ing a hunt­ing pro­gram on your prop­erty or obtain­ing deer man­age­ment per­mits con­tact Mary­land Depart­ment of Nat­ural Resources at 301−258−7308. To report deer related prob­lems and receive infor­ma­tion about con­trol­ling dam­age call the Nui­sance Ani­mal Infor­ma­tion Line 877−463−6497. A book­let titled Con­trol­ling Deer Dam­age in Mary­land is avail­able from the Howard County Coop­er­a­tive Exten­sion Ser­vice at 410−313−2707. It is also con­tained in the Deer Man­age­ment Ref­er­ence Man­ual avail­able in all Howard County Pub­lic Libraries. The Ref­er­ence Man­ual was updated in 2004 and con­tains sev­eral pieces of lit­er­a­ture that can help you under­stand and adapt to the cur­rent deer abun­dance sit­u­a­tion.Automobile/Deer Col­li­sions — Dri­ving tips

  • Be Alert! Deer are most active at dawn and dusk.
  • Watch for deer where roads pass through wooded and agri­cul­tural areas.
  • Deer cross­ing signs indi­cate where heav­ily used deer trails cross road­ways. Slow down and watch for eye-shine of deer near the road edges.
  • Be espe­cially cau­tious dur­ing sea­sons of high deer activ­ity: Octo­ber to Jan­u­ary (the breed­ing sea­son) and June (when year­lings are seek­ing new territories).
  • Don’t use high beam head­lights, which tem­porar­ily blind deer.
  • Watch for more deer fol­low­ing the first one that you see. Many times deer travel in groups.
  • Obey the speed limit, par­tic­u­larly at night in areas with deer cross­ing signs.
  • There is no evi­dence that “deer whis­tles” attached to a car actu­ally reduce the occur­rence of collisions.

Lyme Dis­ease
Lyme dis­ease is an infec­tious ill­ness that is trans­mit­ted to ani­mals and humans by the bite of the black-legged tick (Ixodes scapu­laris). This par­a­site is tiny, about the size of a pin­head. Although this tick feeds on many ani­mals includ­ing mice and domes­tic ani­mals, there is evi­dence that sug­gests an increased deer pop­u­la­tion can increase the num­ber of ticks in an area. The best defense against this dis­ease is pro­tec­tion against the ticks. For more infor­ma­tion and a brochure on Lyme dis­ease and its pre­ven­tion call The Cen­ter for Dis­ease Con­trol at 1−800−886−5963.

Dam­age to Nat­ural Areas
White-tailed deer are her­bi­vores (plant eaters) and feed pri­mar­ily on leaves, buds and twigs. An aver­age sized deer eats six to eight pounds of plant mate­r­ial a day. An over­abun­dance of deer can have a pro­found impact on native veg­e­ta­tion, for­est regen­er­a­tion and wildlife habi­tat. Areas of extreme over­pop­u­la­tion may begin to show a “browse line” where, even in mid-summer, there is lit­tle veg­e­ta­tion on the for­est floor and the trees and shrubs look as if they have been neatly clipped of all leaves up to about five feet high. When this hap­pens, young trees are not pro­duced and habi­tat for nest­ing for­est birds and other wildlife is destroyed. The only way to pro­tect nat­ural areas is to man­age the num­ber of deer.

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