DNR Finalizes Hunting and Trapping Regulation Proposals

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Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife and Heritage Service Director Paul Peditto announced today final hunting regulation proposals for both the 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 hunting license years for resident game species and select migratory game species. DNR adopts hunting and trapping regulations for resident game species on a biennial schedule.

"Because Maryland's game populations are such an important resource to Maryland citizens, the department relies heavily on public comments to guide the hunting regulation process," Mr. Peditto said. "I would like to thank all those who took the opportunity to comment on the department's proposals."

DNR's Wildlife and Heritage Service originally met with representatives from various stakeholder groups to discuss initial proposals. After some slight modifications, public comments were received at three public information meetings. Written comments were also received and posted on the Wildlife and Heritage Service website.

The Wildlife Advisory Commission, which serves as a liaison with the general public, conservation organizations and the sportsmen and women of Maryland on wildlife related issues, has approved this proposed regulation package.

The final proposed 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 Maryland hunting and trapping season dates and bag limits will be published in the Maryland Register, and available for review after publication, at: www.dsd.state.md.us and click on Maryland Register Online.

A 30-day public comment period starts with publication on June 14 for all species except deer and late season waterfowl hunting. All deer season and bag limit proposals will be published in the Maryland Register June 28, with a 30-day comment period. Comments on the late season waterfowl proposals for 2002-2003 will be taken in August.

Three of the original proposals were withdrawn after significant comments were received in opposition to the proposals.

  • One proposal was to shift the start of the bow and arrow-hunting season two weeks earlier, to September 1. That would have also resulted in the closing date shifting to January 15. It was decided to not change this season structure.
  • The second proposal was specific to Region A in Western Maryland, and would have limited archery hunters to harvesting only one antlered deer. The majority of the comments received were opposed to this recommendation, unless it applied to all deer hunting seasons in that Region. The department has withdrawn this proposal, pending further study on applying this restriction to all deer hunting seasons in Region A.
  • The third proposal was specific to that part of Frederick County that is in Region C. The proposal was to place that section of the county into Region B with the remainder of Frederick County. This would have simplified regulations in Frederick County by placing the entire county in one deer management zone. After receiving public input, the Department decided to leave the southern and eastern portion of Frederick County in Region C.

    Highlights of the final proposed regulations are as follows:
  • Bonus Deer Stamp Definition Changed - The Bonus Deer Stamp has been changed to a Bonus Antlered Deer Stamp. A hunter must purchase a Bonus Antlered Deer Stamp before that hunter may pursue a second antlered deer in a specific deer season. Bonus Stamps are no longer required to harvest antlerless deer in any part of the state.
  • Expand the Second Split of the October Muzzleloader Season - The second split of the early October muzzleloader season has been expanded from two to three days in Regions C and D. It has also been added to Region B, thus providing that Region with an additional three days of October muzzleloader hunting. This will provide more antlerless deer hunting opportunities in most of the state, thereby increasing the antlerless deer harvest.
  • Deer Management Region A (Garrett, Allegany and Washington County Zone 2) - In an effort to increase the antlerless deer harvest on private land in Region A, DNR has added two days that antlerless deer may be hunted on private lands during the October muzzleloader season.
  • Deer Management Region B (Washington County Zone 1, Frederick County Zone 1 and Carroll County) - Deer bag limits have been increased in Region B. Hunters will now be able to take three deer during each deer season in that region, but no more than one may be antlered.
  • Deer Management Region C (Frederick County Zone 2, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard, Montgomery, and Prince George's counties) - In 2001, the antlerless deer bag limit for the archery season was changed to unlimited. Beginning in 2002, antlerless bag limits for all deer seasons will be unlimited. This is in response to the need to harvest more antlerless deer in these more urban and suburban areas.
  • Sika Deer - New Definition for Antlered Sika Deer - The definition for an antlered sika deer has been changed. A sika deer will now be considered to be antlered if at least one antler is visible above the hairline.
  • Change in the Sika Deer Bag Limits - In order to control the antlerless sika deer harvest, the bag limit has been changed to one antlered and one antlerless sika deer for each season. Previously, the bag limit was two deer of either sex.
  • Spring Gobbler Season Expanded - The spring gobbler turkey season has been expanded to five weeks by adding one week to the end of the season.
  • Amplified Calls for Raccoon, Opossum and Coyote Hunting - Recorded and amplified calls have been legal for fox and crow hunting. These calls may now be used for raccoon, opossum and coyote hunting.
  • Clarifying the Time When Coyotes may be Hunted - Maryland statute permits the hunting of coyotes at anytime of the year during any hunting season for other animals using methods legally allowed during that season, or at anytime of the year by predator calling during daylight hours. DNR now specifies in regulation that coyotes may be hunted at night with artificial lights during the same time frame that raccoons and opossums may be hunted at night.