Maryland Department of Agriculture Announces Deer Management Initiative

ANNAPOLIS, MD (February 7, 2024) ~ In an effort to address the ongoing issue of deer damage on agricultural land, the Maryland Department of Agriculture has partnered with the Department of Natural Resources to launch a new initiative. The goal of this initiative is to connect farmers with hunters and teach them deer management techniques to reduce the negative impact of deer overpopulation and crop loss.

The idea for this initiative was sparked after farmers expressed their concerns about the issue at last year's Maryland Department of Agriculture's Deer Summit. A survey was also conducted among farmers who have experienced continuous crop damage due to deer overpopulation.

According to Maryland Department of Agriculture Secretary Kevin Atticks, the economic livelihood of Maryland farmers and arborists is greatly affected by the overpopulation of deer. While they are an important part of the state's ecosystem, they also cause significant damage to crops, forest regeneration, and private and commercial landscaping. Therefore, it is crucial for the department to develop and implement strategies to manage this issue and minimize its negative impacts.

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Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Josh Kurtz also expressed his excitement about working with the Department of Agriculture on this initiative. He believes that providing hunters with controlled and appropriately managed opportunities to harvest deer from agricultural land will be another effective tool in controlling deer populations.

During the development phase, both departments worked together to identify willing participants from both the farming and hunting communities. Steve Keithley, Founder of Hunters of Maryland LLC, commended the Moore Administration for listening to their concerns and involving them in finding a solution. He stated that access to private farmland has been a major barrier for hunters in taking more deer, but this initiative will now provide them with access in cooperation with Maryland farmers.

Maryland Farm Bureau President Jamie Raley also praised both departments for their efforts in implementing effective practices to control deer populations and minimize their negative impacts on agriculture production.

Aside from connecting farmers with hunters, this management initiative also includes plans to work with local jurisdictions in expanding access to existing public lands and acquiring new opportunities for future public land acquisitions. Additionally, there is an option for deer meat harvested by hunters to be donated to the Maryland Food Bank and Capital Area Food Bank.

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Molly McGlinchy, Chief of Programs and Innovation at the Capital Area Food Bank, expressed her gratitude for this inclusion in the program. She stated that protein is a critical part of a diet and making venison available to food-insecure individuals has always been popular. The partnership with the Maryland Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources on this program is greatly appreciated.

The Department of Agriculture and the Department of Natural Resources will continue to work closely with Maryland farmers and hunters to achieve the goals and outcomes of this program. State Senator Sarah Elfreth from District 30 in Anne Arundel County also commended this collaboration, stating that it leads to effective solutions.

For more information about this program, interested individuals can contact Cassie Shirk, Maryland Department of Agriculture Assistant Secretary for Marketing, Animal Industries, and Consumer Services at This initiative marks a significant step forward in managing the state's deer population while addressing the concerns of farmers and promoting sustainable practices.

Filed Under: Government, State

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