Archery hunters will be able to hunt and kill deer in two parks in Montgomery County as part of a program to cull the deer population, the county announced Wednesday.
Organized, approved groups will be able to hunt in Watts Branch Stream Valley Park in Potomac, Md. and in Great Seneca Stream Valley Park in Germantown, Md., officials said.
The program is intended to demonstrate that archery may be a safe and effective method for deer population management on Montgomery County park lands.
Archery hunting will be allowed September 11 through January 31, Monday through Sunday by permit only. There’s a list of requirements for getting a permit, including proof of successful hunting experience, a criminal background check and liability insurance.
The parks will remain open to public use while archery hunting is occurring. Affected parks will post yellow and black signs of active hunting areas and restrict archers from coming within 130 yards of homes.
"The safety of residents is our top priority," Montgomery Parks Wildlife Ecologist Bill Hamilton said in a statement. After the "harvest" of 15,000 deer over 19 years, "we have not had one occurrence of personal injury of the public as a result of the Department’s deer management operations."
Park commissioners approved the Pilot Archery Managed Deer Hunting Program after nearly 400 residents weighed in on the proposal. The supporters only slightly outnumbered the opposition, who expressed concerns about excessive deer wounding and suffering.
The Department of Parks said in a release it is dedicated to a responsible and humane approach to controlling the deer population and would suspend the program if it became unsafe or yielded unacceptable deer wounding rates.
Additional hunting of deer, using shotguns, will be allowed in 10 other Montgomery County Parks. Visit the Montgomery Parks website for more information.