White-Tailed Deer in Montgomery County, Maryland
Montgomery County residents continue to see an abundance (and overabundance) of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) across the county (especially in urban/suburban areas). For many people, the sight of a deer bounding gracefully through the forest is an exciting and memorable experience that they would like to see more often. But, for many residents whose landscape plantings or farm crops have been devastated by deer, who find numerous piles of feces in their yards, who have had the costly experience of hitting a deer with an automobile, or who worry about the potential for disease, there is growing concern that we may have “too much of a good thing.”
Nearly eliminated in the early 1900s, a reintroduction program begun in the 1930s successfully re-established white-tailed deer in the Eastern U.S. As development increased into the once-rural areas of Montgomery County, a patchwork of natural areas and landscaped suburban yards, ideal deer habitat (“edge habitat”), was created. Often, it is said that humans invaded deer habitat. However, while this is true to a degree, human progress has actually created habitat and an environment in which white-tailed deer thrive.
With an increase in edge habitat, few wildlife predators, and limited hunting, deer populations have increased dramatically in the past thirty years. The result has been an increase in deer-human conflicts, including deer-related automobile accidents, damage to agricultural crops, residential gardens and landscaping, and concerns about the potential spread of disease.
The Need for Deer Population Management
The growing concern about deer-related impacts over the past three decades indicates that deer populations in some areas of Montgomery County have exceeded the cultural carrying capacity (i.e. exceeded what citizens will tolerate). There are also concerns about the damage deer are causing to natural communities in our parks, especially those related to forest system ecology.
Public education on the use of repellents and fencing to protect property and crops, and efforts to reduce deer-auto collisions through public awareness, warning signs, and reflectors, are important tools in reducing deer-human conflicts and increasing human tolerance for deer. These methods alone, however, do not solve the problem of overpopulation.
At right: 2020 Deer-Vehicle Collisions in Montgomery County, MD (small map)
If left unchecked, deer populations can grow exponentially. As the number of deer continues to increase in many areas of the county, it is likely that deer-related conflicts will also continue to increase. Habitat will degrade, and in the long run, deer may suffer as the population becomes malnourished, unhealthy, and susceptible to disease. A program of deer population reduction and maintenance can reduce both deer-human conflicts and ecological deer impacts and must be considered as a tool in the long-term reduction of deer-related conflicts in Montgomery County. The County’s Deer Management Plan, shown below, outlines methods of population reduction for public and private lands.
The goal of Montgomery County’s Deer Population Management Program is to reduce human-deer conflicts to a level that is compatible with human priorities and land uses. In this way, citizens and white-tailed deer can co-exist in harmony and deer will remain a valued part of our county’s natural landscape.
Deer Plans & Reports
Comprehensive Management Plan for White-tailed Deer
In 1993, in response to citizen concerns about deer-related problems, the Montgomery County Council established a Citizen Task Force to Study White-tailed Deer Management. As a result of this group’s recommendations, the Montgomery County Deer Management Work Group (DMWG) was established to develop a deer management plan for the County and oversee the implementation of a countywide deer management program.
The DMWG is a multi-agency committee with representatives from the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, (M-NCPPC) Department of Parks, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Wildlife and Heritage Service, the Montgomery Soil Conservation District, the Montgomery County Police Department, the U.S. National Park Service, the City of Rockville, and the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission. The goal of the plan is to “Reduce human-deer conflicts to a level that is compatible with human priorities and land uses.”
- Comprehensive Management Plan for White-tailed Deer in Montgomery County, Maryland (2004 update) (PDF)
- Comprehensive Management Plan for White-tailed Deer in Montgomery County, Maryland (1995) (PDF)
Data Collection Reports
- 1996-2011 Deer Impact Data Collection Report (PDF)
- 2019 (PDF) Annual Report and Recommendations
- The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), Department of Parks
- Maryland Department of Natural Resources – Wildlife and Heritage Service
- Montgomery Soil Conservation District
- Montgomery County Police Department
- U.S. National Park Service
- City of Rockville
- Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission
The Montgomery County Department of Parks strives to keep its citizenry informed and involved. If you wish to be included on our mailing list to receive information regarding proposed programming, input opportunities, and annual program schedules, etc., please send an e-mail to MCPemail@example.com.
- Dial 9-1-1 for any imminent threat to public safety
- Dial 3-1-1 to report animal emergencies and complaints in Montgomery County
- Emergency Communications Center or MC311 call takers. Click HERE for additional information
- Maryland Wildlife Information Line: 1(877)463-6497
- Maryland DNR Wildlife & Heritage (M-F 8 AM-4:30 PM): 301-258-7308
- Maryland Natural Resources Police (for after hours): 410-260-8888
Removal of Dead Deer from Roads
The MC311 Information Center will handle reports of dead deer along the roadway: Call 311 (or 240-777-0311 from a cell phone) Monday through Friday, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. To report a dead deer on a 24/7 basis, contact the county through the MC311 website.
Montgomery Parks does not assume responsibility for removal of dead deer (or other wildlife) from private property. Removal of dead animals from private property is the responsibility of the resident/landowner. For a list of Maryland Deer Salvage Permit holders who may be requested to remove dead deer (at a fee), you may contact 301-962-1341.
- M-NCPPC Parklands
Call 301-962-1344 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Deer Management Work Group 301-962-1342 or 301-962-1344
Agricultural crops, gardens, and ornamental plants
- Preventing Deer Damage
Maryland Wildlife Information Line 1(877) 463-6497 or the Montgomery County Cooperative Extension Service at 301-590-9650
- General Questions About Deer
Maryland DNR Wildlife & Heritage: 301-258-7308
- Montgomery County Animal Services: 240-773-5960
- M-NCPPC Park Police (Montgomery County): 301-949-8010
- Montgomery County Police: 301-279-8000