Wednesday, January 21, 2009

MARYLAND NEWS: Loch Raven Deer to be Culled

By a vote of 5-1, the Baltimore County Council approved a measure last night that will allow, for the first time, firearms hunting of deer in a restricted area of the Loch Raven watershed.

Council President Joseph Bartenfelder dissented without comment.

Nearly 900 deer are feeding in an ecosystem that can sustain about 100, officials said. The growing herd is destroying the vegetation and stripping the trees that surround the reservoir, which provides drinking water to about 2 million residents.

"With overpopulation like this, a lethal solution is the only solution," said David Carroll, county director of sustainability. "In fact, we are protecting our own drinking water."

Bowhunting, which began in the watershed Sept. 15, also for the first time, will likely reduce the herd by about 200 before the season ends Jan. 31. But more animals must be culled to prevent degradation of the water supply and damage to the habitats of other wildlife, officials said.

Sharpshooters, trained and certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will hunt with rifles in the watershed next month. They will likely take enough deer within a week, officials said.

Carcasses will be donated to Farmers for the Hungry, which provides food to the needy, officials said.

Opponents to bow and firearms hunting have urged the council to manage deer in a more humane manner.

Source: Baltimore Sun

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