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MoCo Parks OKs Archery Managed Deer Hunt Program

The Montgomery County parks department has approved a pilot archery deer hunting program to help cull the deer herd in Great Seneca Stream Valley in Germantown and Watts Brach Stream Valley Park in Potomac.

In July, Montgomery Parks asked the public for comment on the proposed hunting program. The parks department received approximately four hundred comments from the public offering opinions on the proposal.

“Public support was greater than opposition, by a slight margin,” said Bridget Schwiesow, communication manager at Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, which oversees Montgomery Parks. “Those in opposition shared concern for potential excessive wounding and suffering by way of archery hunting. The goal of every managed hunting program is to experience no wounding loss. With that in mind, the department recognizes that perfection is unlikely.

Montgomery Parks proposed an Archery Managed Deer Hunting Program at two the parks from September through November 2015, and during January 2016. The program would address the overpopulation of deer on parkland in urban communities where safety regulations prohibit the use of firearms. If approved, the proposed program will complement the department’s managed hunting and Park Police sharpshooting initiatives. As such, it is possible that wounding loss will occur at some level. Through selection and training of hunting participants, the Department of Parks is committed to making every effort to reduce the probability of wounding loss.”

Similar programs, throughout the region have shown varying rates of loss ranging from 3 percent to 17 percent, according to Schwiesow. “These rates of unintended injury are consistent with other methods of lethal and non-lethal deer population management, including those of immunocontraception and surgical sterilization programs,” she said.

“The intent of the pilot Archery Managed Deer Hunting Program is to evaluate the method against the presumptions and to demonstrate that archery may be a safe and effective method for deer population management on Montgomery County parklands,” said Schwesow, in a release to the media. “The Department of Parks is dedicated to a responsible and humane approach as part of all of its deer population management programs. If at any time the rate of wounding, or unsafe practices are revealed as unacceptable, immediate action will be taken to mitigate for these or to suspend programming.”

The Archery Managed Deer Hunting Program will be in place concurrent with the Maryland regulated archery season, September 11 through January 31. Affected parks will remain open to public use while archery hunting is occurring. Archery hunting, by permit only, will be permitted Monday through Saturday. Program suspension will occur during the entire month of December and during established State regulated firearms and muzzleloader seasons.

The selected unit of Great Seneca Park is the 460.5 acre northern section of the park which runs from Watkins Mill Road south to North Frederick Road (Rt. 355).

The selected units of Great Seneca and Watts Branch Stream Valley Parks will be posted with signage to aware park users of this activity. Areas accessible for permitted hunters will be delineated with signage and maps which will be provided to the assigned hunting groups. Hunting and weapons discharge will be restricted to a distance of at least one-hundred thirty yards from homes, and a maximum of 6 hunters will be permitted at each park location per day.

One qualified, organized group will be assigned to each affected park location. Groups will consist of no less than six qualified hunters. Each individual, qualified hunter will be required to demonstrate: having completed both a State Hunter Education/Safety Course and a State or National Bowhunter Education Foundation Bowhunter Education/Safety Course, a history of archery hunting experience and record of success, current shooting proficiency under the standards and guidelines set forth by the Department of Parks, and must meet the requirements of a criminal background investigation.

Organized hunting groups will be considered for assignment, by way of an application and review procedure. One selected group will be assigned to each affected park location for the duration of the 2015 – 2016 Montgomery Parks Archery Managed Deer Hunting Season. Interested groups may submit application materials for consideration. Applications may be obtained by visiting www.parksdeermanagement.org

Photo by Germantown Pulse.