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Deer Management in Maryland and Northern Virginia

Controlling the Deer Population in the Washington DC Area


In recent years, the deer population has been increasing in the Washington, DC area, especially in the suburban areas of Maryland and Northern Virginia. The over abundance of deer threatens the habitats of other creatures and has become a safety hazard to drivers around the region. Deer breeding season runs from mid-October to January, with peak activity the first three weeks of November. To reduce the deer population, managed deer hunts are conducted in many parks during the fall and winter. Learn about the deer management techniques used in the Washington DC area.

What are managed deer hunts?

The parks are closed to the public and supervised sharpshooters take on the responsibility to hunt the deer and remove them safely. To date, the managed hunting programs have been strictly monitored and no serious injuries have occurred to hunters or citizens.

Where are managed deer hunts implemented in the Washington DC area?

Just about every county in Maryland and Virginia has a deer management program. To learn specifics about the programs, see the following resources:

Aren’t there more humane alternatives to solve the deer problem?

Yes, this is an ongoing controversy. Sterilization, deer-contraceptives and plant protection (creating barriers to prevent the deer from decimating the greenery) are additional methods that are being used to control the deer population.

How can you avoid a deer/vehicle traffic accident?

  • Keep in mind that deer are most active at dawn and dusk.

  • Don’t exceed the speed limit.

  • At night reduce speeds below the limit, especially when it is rainy or foggy.

  • Watch for deer where roads pass through wooded or rural areas.

  • As you drive, scan the sides of the roads for the eye shine of deer.

  • Deer usually travel in groups. If you see a deer cross the road, slow down and use caution; more are likely to follow.

What can you do to manage deer problems in your backyard or garden?

  • Install an 8- to 10-foot tall wire fence
  • Spray plants with deer repellant products
  • Hang bars of deodorant soap near the problem area
  • Use scare devices, particularly those that are motion-activated and, when activated, play a loud noise, spray water, or turn on a bright light

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