DNR Finalizes Hunting and Trapping Regulation Proposals

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Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife and Heritage Service Director Paul A. Peditto today announced final hunting regulation proposals for the 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 hunting license years for resident game species.

DNR adopts hunting and trapping regulations for resident game species on a biennial schedule. Maryland's annual hunting license year runs from August 1 to July 31.

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 proposals will be published in the Maryland Register for a 30-day public comment period. The website address is: http://www.dsd.state.md.us/MDRegister/

"With a landscape that ranges from the mountains of Western Maryland to the marshes of the Eastern Shore, Maryland supports a rich variety of game species. The opinions and interests of the citizens who hunt and enjoy these species are equally diverse. The Department relies heavily on the comments we receive to guide the hunting regulation process," 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 for resident game species and early season migratory gamebirds.

Based on input of the stakeholders the Department made minor modifications and those modified proposals were taken to the public through four public information meetings held across the state last month. The meetings provided an opportunity for interested persons to review and comment on the proposals. For those persons who were not able to attend one of the public meetings, comments were also received and posted on the DNR website.

Comments on early season migratory gamebirds will be used to guide selection of seasons after the Department receives frameworks from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Highlights of the final proposed regulations are as follows:

Regions B, C, and D have been merged into One Deer Management Region with New Deer Bag Limits: The former Regions B, C and D have been merged into one Region, now known as “Region B”. Deer bag limits have been restructured in Region B and will no longer be independent. The new bag limits for each season (Bow, Firearm, Muzzleloader) are now 2 antlered deer and 10 antlerless deer per hunting device season. The total bag limit for the entire region for all three hunting devices is 30 antlerless deer and 6 antlered (Note: see below for new special unlimited archery bag limit for certain central Maryland counties). As in the past, two antlerless deer must be taken before a hunter can pursue a second antlered deer.

Special Unlimited Antlerless Archery Deer Season Bag Limit Established in Some Counties: In an effort to provide additional opportunities for archery deer hunters to take antlerless deer, DNR has established an unlimited antlerless archery deer bag limit in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. Archery hunters in these counties can take an unlimited number of antlerless deer using archery equipment, but must still take 2 antlerless deer before they can attempt to take a second antlered deer.

The Deer Bag Limit has been changed for the October Muzzleloader Season in Region B: The antlered deer bag limit for the 3-day either sex October muzzleloader season remains at 1, however the bag limit for antlerless deer has increased to 10.

All of Washington County is now in one Deer Management Region: The western portion of Washington County has been removed from Region A, with all of Washington County now in Region B. Region A is now comprised only of Garrett and Allegany counties.

October Muzzleloader Season Expanded: The antlerless only October muzzleloader season has been expanded to 6 days in Region B and 3 days in Region A.

The Daily Deer Bag Limit in Region A has been changed: The daily deer bag limit in Region A has been changed from 1 deer per day to the season bag limit, unless otherwise specified during a deer season segment.

Region A Antlered Buck Bag Limit Changed: Region A deer bag limits for each season (Bow, Firearm, Muzzleloader) will remain at 2 deer per season. However, hunters will be restricted to taking no more than 1 antlered deer in each season. Hunters may take 1 antlered deer and 1 antlerless deer or 2 antlerless deer in each season.

Draw Lock Type Devices now Approved for Archery Season: Devices known as “draw-locks” are now legal for use on vertical bows. Their use is permitted only during the established crossbow season, and they can also be used by anyone who is authorized by a special permit to use a crossbow.

The Junior Deer Hunting Day Deer Bag Limit in Region B has been increased: Junior Deer Hunting Day deer bag limits in Region B have been increased to 3 deer with no more than 1 being an antlered deer.

Note: the proposal to extend the January deer firearms season in the new deer management Region B from 2 days to 7 days was withdrawn. The January deer firearms season will remain at 2 days.

Bear Hunting The bear hunt proposal remains intact, but the Department took seriously the input of Marylanders who responded with suggestions and comments regarding the bear-hunting proposal and has incorporated some of those concerns in its final proposal. Specifically, no attractants or electronic calls will be permitted during the bear season, bear hunters must be in visual contact at all times, dog handlers must keep their dogs leashed at all times, and bear hunters must agree not to hunt deer over bait during the bear season.

Rabbit Season Expanded: Rabbit season has been extended by adding one week to end of the season.

Squirrel Season Expanded: Squirrel season will now start earlier and end later than in previous years. Squirrel season will start on the first Saturday in September and conclude at the end of February.

Fox and Coyote Hunting and Trapping in Caroline County: Caroline County government has repealed its local public law that prohibited the hunting and trapping of fox and coyote in that county. It is now legal to hunt and trap fox and coyote in Caroline County during the established hunting and trapping seasons.

Fox, Coyote, Fisher, Skunk and Long-tailed Weasel Hunting and Trapping Seasons Extended: The statewide hunting and trapping opportunities for these species have been extended by approximately two weeks.

Raccoon and Opossum Hunting Seasons Extended: The raccoon and opossum hunting seasons have been extended one month.

Body-gripping Trap Regulations Changed: The use of body-gripping traps larger than 8” in diameter has been changed. Body-gripping traps larger than 8” in diameter can now be set partially submerged in water. In previous years, these traps had to be totally submerged in water.

The Definition of Jaw Spread Measurements for Leg-hold Traps has been clarified: New trap designs have necessitated a clarification in the definition of jaw spread for leg-hold traps. Jaw spread will now mean the maximum distance between the inside of both jaws, when measured across the trap jaws on a line perpendicular to a line drawn through the jaw pivot points when the trap is in the set position.

All Rifles are Now Permitted for Hunting Nutria: Previously, only .22 caliber rimfire rifles were permitted for nutria hunting. It is now legal for nutria hunters to use any caliber rifle, unless local ordinances are in place to limit the use of rifles for hunting.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Final proposed 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 Maryland hunting and trapping season dates and bag limits will be published in the Maryland Register for a 30-day comment period starting June 25 for all resident game species except black bear. All black bear season and bag limit proposals will be published in the Register May 28. Comments on the late season waterfowl proposals for 2004-2005 will be taken in August.