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Dear Deer: Sundays May Not Be a Day of Rest for You After All. Love, Your Hunters

Maryland lawmakers are trying to balance the need to cull the state's deer population with the wishes of trail riders to have the woods to themselves on Sundays.

Lawmakers are trying to balance the need to cull the state's deer population with the wishes of trail riders to have the woods to themselves on Sundays. File|Patch
Lawmakers are trying to balance the need to cull the state's deer population with the wishes of trail riders to have the woods to themselves on Sundays. File|Patch

Is Sunday meant for riding and fox hunts, or deer hunting? Supporters of the pastimes are at odds over proposed legislation that could change how the Anne Arundel countryside is used.

Sundays have become a prime day for riding and fox hunts in the county since deer hunting is banned that day. But a bill being debated in the Maryland General Assembly could get rid of the so-called “safe Sundays” to allow deer hunting to control an increasing whitetail deer population.

House Bill 197, introduced by Del. Bob Costa, R-Deale, would ask the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to determine the best way to cull the expanding deer herd, blamed for crop damage and car accidents, reports the Capital Gazette.

Anne Arundel’s General Assembly delegation put a hold on the bill on Friday, the paper said, likely so it can be amended to reduce the number of Sunday hunting days from about 15 to a handful.

Leaders of the county and state horse industry are fighting HB 197 to preserve what they call “safe Sundays,” the newspaper says.

“People know Sundays are safe for trail riding, fox hunting and other recreational uses in the woods,” Maryland Horse Council board member Steuart Pittman, who trains horses at his family’s Dodon Farm in Davidsonville, told the Capital Gazette.

If granted the power, the Department of Natural Resources will probably approve Sunday hunting, says the newspaper. The agency backs the bill, saying a Sunday hunt would meet requests for more hunting and provide a cost-effective way to manage the deer population.

“We can’t look for a solution to manage deer and do away with (this) option,” Paul Peditto, director of DNR’s wildlife service, told the newspaper. ‘‘This is the ultimate tool … there is no other magic bullet.”

>>Read the full Capital Gazette story on "Safe Sundays" at: http://www.capitalgazette.com/news/government/maryland-s-sunday-deer-hunting-proposal-could-conflict...

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