By Mary Doyle, Fort Meade Public Affairs Office
Fort Meade Partners with USDA for deer reduction
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE – To protect natural resources and habitat as well as prevent property damage and increased health risks to humans, Fort Meade will partner once again with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services Environmental Division, to conduct deer reduction operations starting Feb. 2. According to a 2020 survey of white-tailed deer on Fort Meade, the population is estimated to be 36 deer per square mile. A healthy population is considered to be 18 deer per square mile.
Fort Meade has been working to thin the white-tail deer population on post since 2015. When the first deer culling operation took place, there were an estimated 156 deer per square mile on the installation, seven times more than what wildlife experts consider a healthy herd. Fort Meade’s deer population had flourished in the enclosed area over several years. Hunting has not been allowed on Fort Meade for more than two decades.
As in years past, two USDA marksmen teamed with a Directorate of Emergency Services representative will conduct the reduction operations through March 31, or until they reach their goal of thinning the population by 125 deer. The work is performed using suppressed rifles to minimize impacts on people living and working on Fort Meade. The hours of the deer reduction will be Monday through Thursday, after dark until approximately 1 a.m. These times will help ensure the operations will not impact rush hour traffic.
Shooting zones will be directed away from structures, vehicles, equipment and bodies of water. Shooting will primarily be conducted in wooded areas, large clearings and areas defined as having more than one deer.
The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services, Environmental Division has a record of zero accidents and a 100-percent drop rate.
Like last year, a deer processor will prepare the meat for donation to the Maryland Food Bank. Fort Meade has donated tens of thousands of pounds of venison to the Maryland Food Bank since 2015. Most of the meat was distributed to veteran-oriented charitable organizations.