The Howard County Department of Recreation & Parks has announced its winter schedule for managing deer populations through sharpshooting. This program is held to help maintain a stable, balanced, white-tailed deer population on county park lands where deer browsing has been shown to reduce biodiversity.

The sharpshooting program is different from the managed hunts, which were announced in August. Specially trained and qualified personnel using highly accurate, noise-suppressed rifles, will remove deer under a special permit issued by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. All the meat from this operation is donated to charitable organizations in the area, including the Community Action Council of Howard County’s Food Bank. Venison is a lean source of protein and has fewer calories and a higher nutrient value than other types of meat. High in iron, B12, B6 and other vitamins, venison is also relatively low in cholesterol compared to other meats.

All properties will be closed to the public during the hours of operation, 3:00 p.m. to midnight. The sites and schedule for this winter are as follows:

Alpha Ridge Landfill

March 11, 25

Belmont Manor

February 5, 19

Dorsey Hall Open Space

February 11, 27; March 12, 24

River’s Edge Open Space

March 3, 17 

Robinson Nature Center

February 4, 18

Timbers at Troy Golf Course

February 6, 20

Worthington Park

March 4, 18

Rockburn Park

February 12, 26

Savage Park

March 5, 19

Recreation & Parks and the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension Service can also arrange to have experts on the topic speak to homeowner associations, schools or other groups.

Other Recreation & Parks’ deer management programs include an effort to reduce ticks on deer using four-poster feeders baited with corn. Developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the devices deliver an approved pesticide to the deer and have been shown to reduce tick populations by 90 percent or more. Recreation & Park is also collaborating with the University of Maryland and the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in an area-wide tick management study, which is investigating tick reduction practices and the movements of tick host species, such as deer and white-footed mice.

Since the deer management program began in 1998, there has been an observable improvement in habitat quality and vegetation abundance in many of the parks where managed hunting and sharpshooting has taken place. For more information on the program, call Recreation & Parks at 410-313-4724.

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Scott E