DNR Announces Proposed Hunting And Trapping Season Dates And Regulation Changes
ANNAPOLIS, MD — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today unveiled their proposed changes to the hunting and trapping regulations for both the 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 seasons.
“In order to provide additional recreational opportunities and move closer to our wildlife management goals we are proposing to expand season lengths for several species and make significant changes to our deer hunting regulations, said Paul Peditto, Director of the Wildlife & Heritage Service. “Consistent with our past efforts to garner meaningful public input, we are expanding our public outreach effort and hosting four public meetings on these proposals at locations across Maryland. We remain sincere in our interest in collecting and reviewing public input on these proposals. To that end, we hope that the meetings are well attended.”
Details on the four meetings were announced last week and can be viewed at: http://www.dnr.state.md.us/dnrnews/pressrelease2004/030404.html
Written comments may be sent to: Paul Peditto, Director, DNR Wildlife and Heritage Service, Tawes State Office Building E-1, Annapolis, MD, 21401. Citizens may also call 410-260-8540 or toll-free in Maryland at 1-877-620-8DNR, ext.8540. Comments may also be sent by fax to (410)-260-8596, or via e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments received by e-mail are posted on the web site at: www.dnr.maryland.gov/wildlife/hntgp.html. Public comments on the proposed regulations will be accepted until 4:00 p.m., Friday, April 9, 2004.
MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES
WILDLIFE & HERITAGE SERVICE
2004-05 AND 2005-06 HUNTING SEASON PROPOSALS
The Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife & Heritage Service is considering the following hunting seasons and bag limits for the 2004-05 and 2005-06 hunting seasons. When no changes are planned, it is so listed.
Migratory Game Birds
*Note: Season, bag limit, and possession limit for migratory birds must conform to regulations and season frameworks adopted by the Secretary of the Interior. Federal regulations are proposed in mid-June and Maryland’s formal season selections are submitted in mid-July. Following a public comment period, seasons are adopted by mid-August.
To provide additional opportunity for public involvement in this process, the Department presents the following proposals for select migratory species with the understanding that they will be subject to conformance with forthcoming Federal frameworks.
September Resident Canada Goose
Change: Liberalize early season opportunities for Resident Canada Geese.
Option 1 - Special Resident Canada Goose Hunting Regulations (based upon 2003 Proposed Federal Rule) may be in effect by August, 2004. These rules would allow special hunting opportunities for resident Canada Geese, including hunting beginning as early as August 1, electronic calls, unplugged shotguns, shooting hours sunrise to ½ hour after sunset and no bag or possession limit. Continuance of these options from September 16-25 in the western zone would be experimental and require an evaluation. During August 1-31, we would limit the special regulations to private land only.
Option 2 – If the Special Resident Canada Goose Hunting Regulations are not approved, we propose to increase the bag limit during September from 5 to 8 (this change has been approved by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service).
Youth Waterfowl Hunt Day
September Teal Season
Webless Migratory Game Birds (doves, woodcock, rails, snipe)
Extend the statewide season closure date for rabbit hunting by approximately 1 week so the end of the rabbit-hunting season coincides with the season closure for eastern zone quail. This will provide additional recreational opportunities and allow upland game hunters to pursue both species simultaneously until the joint closure date. The season extension will not negatively effect rabbit populations.
Forest Game Except Deer
Open squirrel-hunting season approximately 1 month earlier and close it approximately 1 month later. This will provide increased recreational opportunities (especially for youth), without negatively effecting squirrel populations.
Wild Turkey – Fall season
Wild Turkey – Spring Season
Wild Turkey – Youth Day
Red fox, Gray fox, Coyote, Fisher, Skunk and Long-tailed Weasel
Extend the statewide hunting and/or trapping season closure date for these species by approximately 2 weeks. This will provide additional recreational opportunities and alleviate some user conflict issues with expanding deer seasons. The season extension will not negatively effect populations of these species.
Raccoon and Opossum Hunting
Extend the season closure date for raccoon hunting by approximately 1 month to coincide with the season closure for raccoon trapping. This will provide additional recreational opportunities and alleviate some user conflict issues with expanding deer seasons. The season extension will not negatively effect populations of these species.
All Other Furbearer Species
Body Gripping Traps
Allow body-gripping traps to be set when partially submerged in water. Current regulation stipulates that body-gripping traps with diameters exceeding 8 inches must be set totally submerged in water. This change will allow a more efficient harvest of beaver in shallow water situations, and will lessen the probability of inadvertent violations when water levels fluctuate.
Leghold Trap Measurement
Add additional language to clarify how jaw spread measurements are made on leghold traps. The new language will read: “Jaw spread” means 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 a set position. The current definition is not concise and could discourage modifications to traps that may improve animal welfare attributes.
Nutria Hunting - Long Gun Caliber Restrictions
Remove the restriction that currently limits permissible long gun caliber for nutria to 22 rimfire. Lifting the restrictions on long guns should increase efficiency and harvest rates for nutria.
Hunting Hours – One half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset.
Licensing and Stamp Requirements – A Regular Hunting License, Junior Hunting License, Senior Hunting License or Nonresident Hunting License is required to hunt black bear. In addition to holding one of the above hunting licenses, black bear hunters must possess a black bear hunting permit. Hunters entitled to hunt without a license must possess a black bear hunting permit.
Bag Limit – Only one bear may be harvested between any ‘permittee’ and ‘subpermittee’ team of hunting partners. A hunter may kill no more than one bear per season.
Legal Hunting Devices – Any weapon/ammunition that is legal to harvest a deer is legal to harvest a black bear (including rifle, shotgun, muzzleloader, handgun, and archery equipment including a crossbow).
Dogs – Dogs cannot be used to hunt black bear. However, trained tracking dogs may be used to find dead or wounded bears. The dog handler must maintain physical control of the tracking dog at all times and only the hunter may carry a firearm or bow while tracking the bear. Prior to tracking the bear, the hunter must notify by telephone or in person a local regional Natural Resources Police officer. The hunter may dispatch the bear only during legal shooting hours and by means legal for bear hunting. The hunter must also have written permission from the landowner or land manager before tracking the bear with dogs.
Bait/Attractants – Hunting with the aid of bait is illegal. Planted fields where normal agricultural planting, harvesting, or post-harvest manipulations are used are not considered bait. The use of smell and sound attractants that provide no substance for bears to consume is allowed (e.g. food smells, scent lures, predator calls).
Hunter Participation - With the exception of personnel aiding or assisting in the retrieval of a dead bear, only those hunters possessing a bear-hunting permit are allowed to participate in the hunt.
Contact between Hunting Partners – Each member of a permittee/subpermittee hunting team must maintain constant contact with each other at all times during the hunt.
Driving – The act of driving bears is permitted by hunters in possession of a bear-hunting permit.
Bear in a den – A bear in a den may not be killed or chased from the den.
Legal Black Bears – Any black bear is considered legal game.
Hunting Area – The legal hunting area will include all of Garrett County and that portion of Allegany County that lies west of Evitt’s Creek.
Tagging, Field Dressing and Checking Requirements – A proper field tag must be completed and attached to the bear carcass before moving it from the kill site. The proper field tag will be provided with the bear-hunting permit. All bears must be field dressed at the kill site. Proof of sex must remain attached to the bear. A black bear may be quartered or separated into pieces to aid in retrieval. However, proof of sex must remain attached to at least one hindquarter and the head and hide must remain attached to each other until the animal has been checked in at a checking station. All harvested bears must be taken to a designated checking station by the permittee/subpermittee hunting team by 8:00 pm of the day the animal was harvested. Hunters shall also bring their hunting licenses and bear hunting permits to the check station. If it is not feasible to take the bear to the checking station by 8:00 pm on the day of harvest, then the successful hunter must call the appropriate Wildlife & Heritage Service office by 8:00 pm on the day of harvest to report the kill. The successful hunter will then be required to bring the carcass to the checking station on the day following harvest within 24 hours of the kill. At the checking station, hunters will be required to forfeit a premolar from the skull of the bear to the Wildlife and Heritage Service. A possession tag will be provided to a hunter when the bear is checked in at the checking station. This possession tag will serve as proof that the hunter legally acquired the bear and any meat, head, hide, skull, or other parts from the bear. The possession tag must be kept with the meat and any bear parts until they are consumed or disposed of.
Bear-Hunting Permits – Hunting permits will be allotted on a private/public land basis. A portion of the bear-hunting permits issued will be ‘Private Land Only’ permits. Private land is considered to be any property within the bear-hunting area that is not owned or managed by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The remaining portion of the bear-hunting permits will be valid for hunting on either private land or public land (Public land is considered to be any property within the bear-hunting area that is owned or managed by DNR). Those hunters who hunt bears on private land must have written permission from the landowner prior to hunting on such property.
Fluorescent Orange – Bear hunters and any personnel aiding in the retrieval of a legally harvested bear must wear fluorescent orange in accordance with general hunting regulations.
Phone-in Requirement – The Director of the Wildlife and Heritage Service (WHS) possesses the authority to cancel the bear hunt at any time during the bear-hunting season based on seasonal harvest. The permittee will be required to check-in daily after 8:30 pm to determine whether or not the hunt will remain open each subsequent day of the bear-hunting season.
Sale of Bear Parts – No bears or bear parts may be sold.
The Wildlife Advisory Commission would like hunters to consider starting the archery season September 1 and ending it January 15. Doing so will open up the potential for other user groups to gain access to private lands in January.
There are no changes proposed for the crossbow season, except to permit the use of draw-lock devices for vertical bows during the crossbow season. This device allows a bowstring of a vertical bow to be drawn and held until the hunter chooses to release the string. Since this devise essentially converts a vertical bow into a “crossbow”, DNR proposes to allow its use during the season legal for crossbows. Anyone who is authorized to use a crossbow could also use a draw-lock device on a vertical bow.
We are proposing extending the 3-day October antlerless-only muzzleloader season to 6 days (Monday - Saturday, October 25 - 30, 2004, October 24 - 29, 2005). This would provide additional days of recreation and deer management opportunity.
Region A- Allegany and Garrett counties
The eastern boundary line of Region A will become the Allegany-Washington county border. This change would modify Region A into a 2-county region of Allegany and Garrett counties. Washington County deer populations are now at a higher level that requires more liberal regulations than Allegany and Garrett. Allegany and Garrett counties will continue to be managed as Region A.
The proposed deer hunting seasons and bag limits in Region A have been altered to enhance the harvest of antlerless deer and moderate the taking of antlered deer. These changes will better control the total number of deer and increase the number of older antlered deer within the Region.
The daily bag limits for Region A will be changed from 1 deer per day to the season bag limits unless otherwise restricted during a season segment, such as the 1 deer limitation of the first 3-day segment of the October Muzzleloader Season.
Region A bag limits for each season (Bow, Firearm, Muzzleloader) will be maintained at 2 deer but hunters will be restricted to taking no more than 1 antlered deer in each season. Thus, a hunter may take 1 antlered deer and 1 antlerless deer or 2 antlerless deer during the season.
No changes except for the bag limits mentioned above.
The first 3-day October muzzleloader segment (October 21 – 23, 2004, October 20 – 22, 2005) bag limit will be limited to 1 deer of either sex on both private and public lands. Last year, public lands hunters were restricted to antlered deer only during the early October muzzleloader season.
DNR proposes to add in Region A the 6-day antlerless only October muzzleloader segment (October 25 – 30, 2004, October 24 – 29, 2005). It will be limited to private lands only. Public lands will be closed during this segment. Hunters who have taken 1 deer during the early October either sex muzzleloader season may take another deer. Hunters that did not take a deer during the 3-day either sex October muzzleloader segment may take 2 antlerless deer on private land. If a hunter takes 2 deer during the October muzzleloader seasons, the hunter will not be able to hunt during the 2-week late muzzleloader season.
No changes in the late muzzleloader season except for bag limits mentioned above.
No changes except for bag limits mentioned above.
Region B- Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Calvert, Caroline, Carroll, Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Frederick, Harford, Howard, Kent, Montgomery, Prince George’s, Queen Anne’s, St. Mary’s, Somerset, Talbot, Washington, Wicomico, Worcester counties
Regions B, C, D and the western portion of Washington County have been merged into 1 region. This alteration will provide for increased opportunities for antlerless harvest across the state and establish deer populations in better balance with the habitat. This modification will also simplify the bag limit regulations in preparation for the likely implementation of a telephone deer and turkey checking system in 2005-06. The Region C counties will no longer have unlimited antlerless deer harvests. Recent harvest data demonstrates that a finite bag limit of antlerless deer will continue to allow hunters to properly manage deer. Also, it’s been suggested that unlimited deer bag-limits categorize white-tailed deer as vermin rather than a native big game mammal.
The bag limit for each season (Bow, Firearm, Muzzleloader) will be 2 antlered deer and 10 antlerless deer. Two antlerless deer must be taken before the hunter may pursue a second antlered deer.
The antlered bag limit for the 3-day either sex early muzzleloader season (October 21 – 23, 2004, October 20 – 22, 2005) remains at 1; however, the bag limit for antlerless deer rises to 10. The antlerless only season is lengthened from 3 days to 6 days (October 25 – 30, 2004, October 24 – 29, 2005). During the 2 October muzzleloader seasons, hunters may take up to 10 antlerless deer. Both these changes will enhance antlerless deer harvest. As in previous years, the late muzzleloader season (December 18, 2004 – January 1, 2005, December 17 – 31, 2005) bag limits will remain a continuation of the early muzzleloader bag limits.
Junior Deer Hunting day (November 13, 2004, November 12, 2005) bag limits will be expanded to 3 deer with no more than 1 being antlered. This will encourage young hunters to take antlerless deer.
As in past years, the 2-week component of the firearm season will open on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. The 2-day January firearm season will be expanded to 7 days (January 8 – 15, 2005, January 7 – 14, 2006). The entire bag limit for all combined 3 segments (Junior day, 2-week, January season) will be 2 antlered deer and 10 antlerless deer.
Draw-lock devices will be legal for vertical bows during the crossbow season as noted above.
No changes will be made for the hunting seasons or bag limits of sika deer, with the bag limit remaining 1 antlered and 1 antlerless deer for a total of 2 deer in each season
Future White-tailed Deer Management Hunting Seasons & Bag Limits
The Maryland Deer Plan guides the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to increase antlerless deer harvest in order to manage deer populations. The 1997 plan directed DNR to stabilize the deer population and then to manage it according to local needs. Since 1998, the DNR deer hunting season structure and bag limits have given Maryland deer hunters more opportunities to take antlerless deer. At the same time, opportunities to take antlered deer have remained stable.
Prior to the middle 1990s, antlered harvest grew at a rapid rate indicating a fast growing deer population. Since then, the statewide harvest of antlered deer in rural landscapes has shown little growth, with the last 3 seasons being fairly stable. This harvest data suggests that deer season and bag limit alterations have stabilized white-tailed deer numbers in country settings when evaluated on a statewide level. However, the population still needs to be reduced.
Since 1998, antlerless deer harvest across the state has continued to increase at an almost exponential rate. This growth is due to increasing antlerless bag limits and expanding the number of “antlerless only” days and is not indicative of changing deer population numbers.
In order to further our efforts toward reducing Maryland’s estimated deer population of 296,000 to a level of 20 – 25 deer per square mile (171,000 – 214,000), additional antlerless deer need to be harvested.
DNR is committed to reducing deer populations. If the aforementioned white-tailed deer seasons and bag limits do not meet our statewide management goals in the near future, more dramatic changes may become necessary, such as:
*Require 1 antlerless deer to be taken before an antlered deer may be taken, in each season (bow, firearm, muzzleloader), and in some or all parts of the state.
*Establish an antlerless deer only season to be held prior to the either sex season, in each of the three deer seasons (bow, firearm, muzzleloader).
These 2 suggestions would have all deer hunters (bow, firearm, muzzleloader) share equally in the effort to bring Maryland’s rural deer herd to a level that would reduce damage to agricultural crops, improve healthy forest regeneration, and to lessen deer vehicle collisions.
Posted March 10, 2004