Discover the reasons for deer management, learn about the components of the deer management program, and find resources to help alleviate deer conflicts on your property.
White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are a beautiful and valuable wildlife species in Prince George’s County. Though once rare in Maryland, the current deer population has become over-abundant. Too many deer will result in ecological problems and increase deer-human conflicts.
The factors that have contributed to the population growth of deer in our region include:
- Abundant food sources found in agriculture and residential landscaping
- Ideal deer habitat found in suburban areas
- Removal of large predators
- Reduced hunting opportunities
The Need for Deer Management
A reduction in population using deer management is needed to address the issues caused by too many deer. Over-abundant deer populations can result in:
- Forest degradation due to heavy browsing of tree seedlings
- Reduced biodiversity
- Increase in invasive plant species
- Increased risk of deer-vehicle collisions
- Potential increased risk of Lyme Disease and other communicable diseases
- Property damage to landscaping, crops, and vehicles
- Poor herd health
Deer Management Programs
The Department is managing select parks to lower the deer population at those sites through public hunting and sharpshooting. Though many parks are experiencing the negative effects of an over-abundant deer population, the Department’s management program is not always a feasible option. Safety is the program’s top priority.
Deer Management Factors
When determining if deer management is feasible at a park, the Department considers the following:
- Access throughout the park
- Deer population size
- Deer-vehicle collision data
- Ecological damage
- Number of surrounding homes and businesses
- Public comments
- Size of the park
Deer Population Surveys
The deer management program conducts population surveys to estimate the deer population size at select park sites. The recommended deer density is 20 deer per square mile. Park properties that are estimated to have significantly higher deer densities than what is recommended are considered for deer management.
In partnership with Prince George’s County Animal Control, deer-vehicle collision data has been gathered to show where roadkill deer carcasses are removed from county roads. This deer vehicle collision map (PDF) shows those locations. Please note this data does not include unreported carcasses or deer that survive a vehicle collision. The true number of deer-vehicle collisions is believed to be much higher.
Here are some driving tips to help prevent striking a deer with your vehicle:
- Drive the speed limit. Slower driving speeds give you and the deer more time to react.
- Deer are more active from dusk to dawn. Be cautious when driving during these times.
- The fall breeding season (October – December) has the highest occurrence of deer-vehicle collisions because of increased deer activity.
- Look for the eye shine of deer when driving at night.
- Pay attention to stretches of roads with deer crossing signs.
- Deer tend to travel in groups. If one deer is observed crossing the road, drive slowly and look for more deer.
Property owners are able to use various tools to address deer-related conflicts. The following tools can be used to help alleviate issues:
- Deer-resistant Landscaping.
- Hunting (check county and state regulations)
Department of Natural Resources
For questions, please email Deer Management or call (301) 627-7755.