(Baltimore) County seeks to curtail deer in future park


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Drizzt
January 21, 2003, 05:02 PM
Copyright 2003 The Baltimore Sun Company
All Rights Reserved
The Baltimore Sun


January 21, 2003 Tuesday HOWARD Edition

SECTION: LOCAL, Pg. 1B

LENGTH: 703 words

HEADLINE: County seeks to curtail deer in future park;
Bowhunters will try to reduce Blandair herds;
Crop loss, road hazard noted;
Homes near farm fields dictate arrows over guns;
Columbia

BYLINE: Larry Carson

SOURCE: SUN STAFF

BODY:
The 140 deer that live on Blandair wander freely on the 300-acre future park in the center of suburban Columbia, even crossing busy Route 175 in bunches, according to hunters who have seen their tracks.

But without natural predators, they have been eating up to 20 percent of the feed corn that farmer Mark Mullinix grows on rented fields on the Blandair property along Oakland Mills Road. So Howard County has applied for a state permit to send in experienced bowhunters to thin the pesky herd.

Robert Yohe, 79, said he has seen deer jump the chain-link fence around his pre-Columbia Oakland Mills Road home next to the farm fields, and use a hoof to tip a bird feeder in his back yard to eat the seed. He, and others who live in the area, do not object to the hunt. "They're not going to shoot close to anyone's house. It's not dangerous," he said.

A growing suburban danger is hitting a deer with a vehicle. The number of deer killed on state and county roads in Howard County totaled 1,005 last year, according to county and state officials.

The growing deer population - with attendant cases of tick-caused Lyme disease - prompted the county to arrange controlled deer hunts in undeveloped areas of David Force Park in West Friendship and the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area in River Hill.

Maryland hunters using modern firearms killed 41,469 deer statewide during the two-week hunt after Thanksgiving. In Howard, hunters killed 544 deer, a 28 percent increase, state officials said.

"They're eating us alive," Mullinix said about the deer on the 60 acres he rents from the county south of Route 175. The deer "do 90 percent of their work at night," he said, so he rarely sees any - just what they have wrought.

"Everybody recognizes that there's a huge issue. It's sad. They're everywhere," said Sylvia Ramsay, a resident nearby and a member of the citizens group planning for the conversion of Blandair Farm into a park.

Phil Norman, Howard County deer project manager, said the county is awaiting a crop damage permit from the state to allow the hunt, which will be managed by Marty Hayes, founder of Suburban White Tail Management of Maryland - a group of experienced, highly skilled hunters who hunt on farmland all over Maryland. After the permit is issued, the hunt will be scheduled.

Hunting will take place only when school is in session, and all the hunters are to be shooting from elevated stands and their arrows directed downward.

Norman said the county will allow only bows and arrows because the fields are nearly surrounded by homes.

"Bowhunting is a much less efficient way of harvesting deer based on the amount of effort on the part of the hunters, but safety is extremely high, and it's quiet." Norman said.

Hayes, 53, said he will be one of eight bowhunters working from ladder stands.

He and hunters in his group will shoot from no farther than 30 yards, after studying a target for several minutes. His members can consistently hit a 3-inch diameter circle at that distance, Hayes said. For practice, he shoots at golf balls suspended on strings, he said.

No hunter will be closer to a home than 150 yards, he said. And cold, snowy weather is especially good for hunting, he added, because snow muffles sound and helps disguise hunters visually, while the cold helps disguise human scent.

The county sent 754 surveys to residents near the fields and informed the citizens committee working on plans for Blandair. Of the 397 surveys returned, Norman said, 65 percent supported hunting.

Area village boards will be notified once a date is set and the area will be heavily posted, Norman and Hayes said. The hunts will take place before 11 a.m. on schooldays, though Hayes said he is considering some evening hunting, too.

Jillian Borchard, 29, who lives on Shadowfall Terrace across from the fields, said, "I don't have a problem with deer hunting by bow and arrow," though she would like to know exactly when the hunting will occur because she sometimes walks her dog in the field.

Hayes said she has nothing to fear. In western Howard on other farms where he has hunted, he said, "I have horse riders pass by me all the time. They never even know I'm there."

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Art Eatman
January 21, 2003, 05:06 PM
It is always refrshing to see rational thought from Official People.

:), Art

Dave McCracken
January 24, 2003, 05:18 AM
Right now, I'm about 2 miles away from that proposed park. Note that the park is in Howard county, not B-more county.

Deer densities in this area exceed 100 per sq/mile. DNR says that anything over 30-40 per is excessive. Of course, not much of it is hunted. There is a special shotgun hunt at another park area nearby, and some hunting is allowed in some parts of Patapsco State Park, but the human density and the actions of some fanatical ARAs has limited balancing of the herd.

Those last are ignorant of how the real world operates. Hunting is looked down on, lots of them are vegetarians, and they vote. Some may have trouble walking off pavement.

Until Bambi becomes a hood ornament for a brief moment, they don't think about the problems induced by unlimited growth.

I don't bowhunt anymore, but I hail this season as a small victory. Reality wins....

Art Eatman
January 24, 2003, 10:21 AM
Back, I dunno, twenty or so years ago, an area in Noo Joisey banned deer hunting. Nature took its course, and Bambi had unfortunate interactions with Volvos and BMWs. The "Save Bambi" crowd got tired of paying the insurance deductible and hunting was reinstituted.

Cherchez le $$$.

Art

JeepDriver
January 24, 2003, 09:12 PM
I live in White Marsh, Maryland (Baltimore County) It's a growing area, there are new houses and town homes going up daily.

I've been walking my dog in a field close to my house for 3 years, but they just started to build there. I have watched her chase deer across that field. Not to amazing normaly, but I-95 is less then 1 mile away! And field is in the middle of one of the bussiest shopping districts in the county!

I work in northern Baltimore County in Cockeysville. I see dead deer on I83 and Padonia Road weekly. But the tree huggers in that area won't let us bow hunt. They use the same excuse every time, The don't want us shooting that close to their house.

So I hunt in Harford County. I'm more then happy to take some of their deer.

Vern Humphrey
January 30, 2003, 05:43 PM
A friend of mine (who is an NRA Director) dealt with a similar problem in Northern Virginia a few years back.

He organized the WOMEN! They would call the County Supervisors to say "There are deer in my yard! I'm afraid to send my children out to play!" or "I just found a DEER TICK on my child! What are you doing about it?" or "I nearly hit a DEER! And my CHILDREN were in the car!"

The supervisors went from anti-hunting to pro-hunting in an amazingly short time. :D

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