Maryland Whitetail Deer

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Whitetail Deer


Maryland Whitetail Deer History


Colonial Era: When the European colonists arrived in the New World they found numerous white-tailed deer. The colonists recognized the importance of the white-tailed deer resource and passed a legislative act in 1729 that prohibited the killing of deer between January 15 and July 31.

Modern Era: By the beginning of the 20th century, Maryland’s white-tailed deer survived only in remote sections of Garrett, Allegany, Washington and Frederick counties. Deer hunting season was eventually closed statewide in 1902.

In 1916, the Maryland Legislature created a Conservation Commission to protect and propagate wildlife. The first Maryland hunting license requirement became law in 1918. Deer conservation efforts during the 1920s focused on creating deer refuges. Relocated Maryland deer and deer purchased from nearby states served as breeding stock within these refuges. Some deer naturally moved south from Pennsylvania into adjacent Maryland counties as well. These initial management efforts, coupled with effective law enforcement, resulted in an increase in deer numbers across the state by the late 1920s.

Maryland reopened deer hunting in Allegany County in 1927. At least five bucks were taken that season. Garrett County opened two years later with a one-buck bag limit that resulted in nine deer being taken. In 1931, a total of 32 bucks were harvested in Allegany and Garrett counties. With the opening of the 1931 deer season, Maryland initiated the first-ever check-in requirements for deer.

During the 1930s, deer from a Pennsylvania game farm were released at Aberdeen Proving  Ground (APG), a U. S. Army installation in Harford County. During World War II the APG deer population grew to levels that created a hazard to military operations. State wildlife personnel trapped over 2,000 deer on APG and released them in various locations across Maryland until the early 1960s.

By the mid 1950s, the deer relocation efforts and population monitoring using modern wildlife science began to show results. A total of 1,549 deer were taken within 17 Maryland counties during the 1954 firearm deer season.

The 1950s also spawned the earliest Maryland studies on white-tailed deer biology. State wildlife personnel examined deer that were brought to check stations, recorded weights and estimated ages by examining the teeth. Researchers used the data to monitor the health and density of the deer population across Maryland.

By 1989, only deer populations in the far western counties required regulation through antlerless permits. Antlerless deer permits were eliminated in western Maryland during the late 1990s.

Excessive Deer By the mid-1980s, an expanding deer population coupled with a rapidly growing human population lead to increasing conflicts between deer and their human neighbors. Deer began to damage ornamental landscaping planted by residents of Maryland’s new housing developments. Deer bounded in front of commuters traveling between work and home. Deer herds protected from regulated hunting grew at rapid rates and exacerbated the problems associated with a population exceeding its cultural carrying capacity. Creation of the 1998 Maryland White-tailed Deer Plan By the 1990s, Maryland’s deer population had exceeded its cultural carrying cap

Creation of the 1998 Maryland White-tailed Deer Plan

By the 1990s, Maryland’s deer population had exceeded its cultural carrying capacity (or public acceptance level) in many parts of the state. The combination of a growing deer herd and a shift from an agricultural based society to an urban/suburban based society resulted in significant deer management issues and elevated the need for a comprehensive deer management plan. In 1996, the MDNR joined with the Wildlife Advisory Commission to develop a statewide deer management plan. MDNR recognized that a new and innovative approach was needed to manage white-tailed deer in the state. As a result, the citizens of Maryland were involved throughout the development process of Maryland’s first white-tailed deer management plan.


Here also is some interesting reads on whitetail deer, see web links below


Photo of White-tailed Deer Fawn, courtesy of W. J. Berg, USFWS

CLICK ON PHOTO TO VISIT DNR DEER FAWN FACTS Photo of White-tailed Deer Fawn, courtesy of W. J. Berg, USFWS



DNR Frequently Asked Questions about White-tailed Deer


Click on this photo to visit Maryland DNR Deer Facts webpage




Click on the photo to visit DNR Deer Biology webpage




Click on this photo to read about Deer Beds!




Click on this photo to read about Whitetail Sleep Habits




Click on this Ad to see Fun Kid facts on Whitetail Deer


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