Deer Management

Shar­ing our envi­ron­ment with wildlife can 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. Deer are very adapt­able ani­mals and will con­tinue to thrive in Howard County.

For more information about Howard County’s program, please visit their Wildlife page

Dam­age to Agri­cul­tural Crops and Gar­dens

Dam­age pre­ven­tion alter­na­tives for home­own­ers and farmers include mechan­i­cal noise pro­duc­ing devices, chem­i­cal repel­lents, and fenc­ing. Home­own­ers can choose to land­scape their prop­erty with deer resistant plants. Farm­ers expe­ri­enc­ing crop dam­age may open their land to hunt­ing and/or obtain deer management per­mits to reduce the num­ber of deer on their prop­erty.

For more infor­ma­tion, please visit the Mary­land Depart­ment of Natural Resources’ deer management page. UMD Extension also provides a publication titled Managing Deer Dam­age in Mary­land

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 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.

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.

More info can be found on the Howard County Health Department’s Lyme Disease page.

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.

Additional Resources