Activism Works: The Howard County, Maryland, Deer Culling Battle

By Jennifer Grill

Ann Selnick, County Executive Ken Ulman, and Jennifer Grill

On July 18, 2007, we met with County Executive Ken Ulman for a meeting concerning the managed deer hunts taking place in Howard County, Maryland. The four of us: Ann Selnick (President of Animal Advocates of Howard County), Joseph Lamp (Wildlife Advisory Commissioner for the Department of Natural Resources & Member of NRA, Don Elroy (Director of Wildlife Advocacy for the Humane Society of the United States), and myself (Spokesperson for Animal Advocates of Howard County) met with County Executive Ken Ulman.

Unexpectedly, he invited a member of the Department of Recreation & Parks (the department that handles the managed hunts).

We presented Mr. Ulman with a brief summary of the deer situation in Maryland and how wildlife agencies brought the white-tailed deer here and re-located them throughout Maryland to promote large game hunting. We then discussed the typical myths and facts about deer (i.e. disease transmission, vehicle-deer collisions, homeowner losses, ecological carrying capacity, CRE, etc). We also brought up several other issues that the average constituent might be concerned about such as firearm safety. We showed Mr. Ulman the bow hunting wounding rates.

We also discussed how for several years Howard County has engaged in a deer-kill program (the managed hunts – which are a combination of firearms, bow and arrow, and “sharpshooter,” AKA hired assassin) that is not addressing the real issue. While the formulator of the program has pronounced the program a success, the primary problems have not been resolved. Even more troubling is the fact that the problem has gotten worse while we have been told “all is well.” We informed him that the decision makers are hunters, and the Department of Recreation & Parks – Head of Deer Management in Howard County is not only a hunter but is the hired assassin – a clear conflict of interest.

We also educated Mr. Ulman about a survey that was sent out to the citizens of Howard County regarding the managed deer hunts. The survey was preceded by a meeting held by Phil Norman, who happens to be a preacher and a wonderful speaker. He demonstrated how he believed the lethal option was the solution to our overpopulation of deer. It was not only a very biased but also inspiring meeting. This event was followed by a survey that had questions geared toward homeowner losses and fears. The conclusion was that 75% of homeowners wanted the hunt. Several moths later, at a Recreation & Parks meeting, Phil Norman admitted that Managed Hunt will have little if any effect on homeowner losses. He still claimed that managed hunt was a success.

We wanted our County Executive to understand that the formulator of this lethal program was not only biased but is self-serving. We also impressed on everyone at the meeting that there is a need for a new, more balanced survey after the public is informed of the facts.

Our County Executive was very receptive and seemed genuinely interested in learning more about alternatives to lethal deer management. We made a very strong argument and now Mr. Ulman is reviewing our materials. Since our meeting the Department of Recreation & Parks removed a website link to Quality Deer Management and replaced it with Animal Advocates. See: !!!!

Mr. Ulman told Ann Selnick and me that he would support our efforts to inform our community on how to co-exist with deer. We followed up our meeting with letters as well as a separate assessment of the managed deer hunt report by the HSUS. We couldn’t have hoped for a better, more receptive meeting, but we have a long road ahead of us.

One of our other goals was to cancel the 2007 – 2008 Department of Recreation & Parks Managed Deer Hunts until accurate sentiment of community members is measured after the public is fully informed and educated. Furthermore, we highlighted that there is a need to convene an unbiased panel of informed individuals to evaluate and implement known, non-lethal, and proven successful methods, and to incorporated non-hunters in the decision making process surrounding deer concerns.

We are currently planning a mini-conference with Anthony Marr, Peter & Anne Muller, and several other speakers on October 25.
My next step is a meeting with the Secretary at Maryland-DNR and then hopefully with our Governor. We have the ear of our politicians and we intend to keep it.

Jennifer suggests that you find out what is happening in your community with regard to culls, and write letters to the editors, contact politicians, write flyers, and start public information sessions. Try to stick to the facts. Most people aren’t interested in deer, but they do care about Lyme disease, deer-vehicle collisions, taxes, gardens, and safety. Try to stick to those points. Make it simple and polite and try not to cast blame.

Jennifer Grill is the Wildlife Spokesperson for Animal Advocates of Howard County. She has written an excellent response to many of the arguments used to justify culls. Please contact Animal Advocates of Howard County if you would like a copy e-mailed to you. and visit their website at

Bad News:

The helicopters have been spotted and does are appearing throughout the Point Reyes National Seashore with ear tags and radio collars. The killings are being kept secret from the public, but West Marin locals know that if the slaughter of the fallow and axis deer has not yet begun, we are only days away now from the first killings.


Good News:

As we were going to print, last minute good news came our way. The announcement came from Stuart Chaifetz, Director, Animal Protection PAC,


Contact Us

Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting / C.A.S.H.
P.O. Box 562
New Paltz, NY 12561