Managing for Balance
Deer populations across much of Montgomery County have reached levels that exceed the capacity for the sustainability of the natural environment (Biological Carrying Capacity) as well as the capacity for tolerance by citizens residing in the county (Cultural Carrying Capacity). Beginning in 1996, in response to the recommendations of the Montgomery County Deer Management Work Group, deer population management programs were established, and have been expanded, to directly reduce and maintain deer populations on parkland. Deer population management is facilitated by the Department of Parks through Managed Deer Hunting Programs and a Park Police-based Sharpshooting Program, which are detailed below.
Managed Deer Hunting
To reduce and maintain deer populations in accordance with the goals of the County’s deer management plan, M-NCPPC Montgomery Parks Department facilitates managed deer hunting in select parks during the fall and winter, annually. Programming is designed with public safety being paramount. Managed hunting programs are directed by the Department’s Natural Resources Stewardship Section and participants are required to follow strict safety and procedural guidelines. State and local laws are met and/or exceeded throughout each of the Managed Deer Hunting Programs. Managed hunting programs utilize carefully screened, qualified, and licensed recreational hunters participating in the following programs:
Lottery Managed Hunting Program
The Lottery Managed Deer Hunting Program utilizes both shotgun and archery hunting. For shotgun programming, park locations are closed to the public for 24 hours on scheduled & announced hunting dates; archery programming, park locations are not closed and remain open to the public as usual. Archery hunting occurs from September – January, annually. The Lottery Managed Deer Hunting Program is open to public application following a review of a pre-screening submission. Those interested in applying may complete the Lottery Program Pre-Screening Packet (PDF) of information and follow instructions within the packet for submission. The deadline for new Lottery Program Pre-screening submission is the first Friday in June, annually.
Cooperative Managed Hunting Program
The Cooperative Managed Deer Hunting Program utilizes both shotgun and archery hunting methods in cooperation with pre-selected, highly organized, experienced, and insured hunting groups. Selected park locations may use only shotgun hunting, only archery hunting, or a combination of both. The method is selected for each location based on best-fit approach priorities with safety being paramount followed by management objectives.
Cooperative Shotgun-managed deer hunting projects are assigned through a proposal/application-based approach and maintained/renewed as appropriate. Shotgun-managed hunting park locations are closed to the public for 24 hours on the scheduled/announced dates of the hunts. Hunts are scheduled on specified dates during the months of October – January, annually. This schedule is announced each summer and affected parks are posted with yellow “Park Notice” signs that indicate the specified closures for the season.
Cooperative Archery-managed deer hunting projects are assigned through an application procedure. Selections, assignments, and renewals occur through an evaluation and review procedure, annually. Selected groups are assigned to a specified park location(s) for the duration of the Montgomery Parks Archery Managed Deer Hunting Season, annually. Montgomery Parks Archery hunting programming is a low-impact and effective method of managing deer populations in the county. Archery hunting occurs from September – January, annually, in select park locations, only, according to strict, specified program regulations. Affected Park locations where archery-managed hunting occurs remain open to the public as usual and general notification signs are posted.
Groups interested in applying and seeking further details pertaining to the Cooperative Archery Program are asked to review the Program Regulations and Requirements for Groups prior to inquiring with Program Managers.
NOTE: We are not currently accepting applications at this time. However, to be considered for future opportunities, please contact us at MCP-DeerManagement@MontgomeryParks.org
Tenant Managed Deer Hunting Program
The Tenant Managed Deer Hunting Program utilizes carefully selected, qualified hunters, identified by the parkland lessee and approved by Parks Wildlife Ecology & Management staff. This program occurs on agriculturally leased or other special condition park locations that are closed/restricted from general public access year-round. Hunting is conducted by permit, only, according to State seasons and bag limits, and within strict regulations and guidelines developed specifically to the leased property. This program is intended to mitigate crop damage, as well as other natural resources and public safety/resources interests shared both by the lessee and the Department of Parks.
To learn more about the Montgomery Parks managed deer hunting programs, please review the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), or you may contact Info@montgomeryparks.org (Subject: ATTN Managed Deer Hunting).
Park Police-based Sharpshooting
M-NCPPC Montgomery Parks, in order to reduce and maintain deer populations in accordance with the goals of the county’s deer management plan, conducts police-based sharpshooting in select parks during the period of January – March, annually.
Deer population reductions are conducted from sunset until sunrise while the parks and trails are closed to the public. Programming is designed with public safety being paramount. Police-based sharpshooting programs are directed and supervised collaboratively by the Department’s Natural Resources Stewardship Section and Park Police Division.
Deer are removed safely, humanely, and discreetly. The meat product from all deer harvested through Park Police Sharpshooting operations is donated to the Capital Area Food Bank for distribution to the region’s charitable organizations throughout the surrounding area. To date, the Department of Parks has donated more than 384,000 pounds of venison (1,536,000 ¼ lb servings) to those in need. If you have any questions about this program, please review the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).