Maryland Deer Population:  Estimated at 230,000 in 2023, 220,000 in 2022 and 232,000 in 2020.  A state estimate of 207,000 deer in 2018.  Estimated at 214,000 deer prior to hunting season in 2016 and 2017, down somewhat from the 220,000 in 2015, and 227,000 in 2014.  The rise in deer take for 2016 was attributed to better weather and the opening of Sunday hunting.  The deer population peaked around the year 2002 at about 294,000, trending down since then.  Herd analysis at right.

Maryland Deer News

Maryland Governor Signs Law Creating Individual Income Tax Credit for Hunting, Harvesting Antlerless Deer  May 20, 2024 Bloomberg Tax

... an income tax credit for individuals who hunt and harvest antlerless deer and donate the processed venison meat to certain 501(c)(3) organizations... a maximum annual credit of $300 per individual ...

Maryland Department of Natural Resources Confirms 52 Deer With Chronic Wasting Disease May 8, 2024  Department of Natural Resources News

... 52 white-tailed deer sampled within Allegany, Baltimore, Frederick, Montgomery and Washington counties in 2023 tested positive for chronic wasting disease, a neurological disease found in deer, elk, and moose.  Of the positive samples, 49 came from within the existing chronic wasting disease management area (Allegany, Carroll, Frederick, and Washington counties), while one positive sample came from Baltimore County and two positive samples came from Montgomery County..,

Maryland House Passes Bill Continuing Antlerless Deer Hunting Programs March 29, 2024  WBOC

... SB0367/HB481 addresses concerns of wildlife damage to farming operations by allowing counties to continue programs that allow the hunting of antlerless deer, such as the Lower Shore's Doe Harvest Challenge...

Maryland national parks see 1st cases of ‘zombie deer disease’ March 6, 2024 FOX News on

... Two deer tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD) at Antietam and Monocacy national battlefields ... the disease has been present in the state since 2010..,

Maryland Hunters Harvest 72,642 Deer for 2023-2024 Season February 13, 2024 DNR News

... The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reported that deer hunters harvested 72,642 deer during the combined archery, firearms, and muzzleloader seasons, from Sept. 8, 2023 through Feb. 3, 2024.  The statewide harvest included 30,025 antlered and 38,511 antlerless white-tailed deer, and 1,912 antlered and 2,194 antlerless sika deer. The harvest was 5% lower than the 2022-2023 total of 76,687 deer..,

Maryland Deer Hunters Conclude Successful Fall Firearm Season December 18, 2023 Maryland DNR News

... hunters harvested 28,236 deer during the two-week firearm season from Nov. 25 through Dec. 9. The firearms season harvest was 3% lower than last year’s official count of 29,160 deer... Hunters reported taking 12,002 antlered deer during the two-week season, which was similar to last year’s official total of 12,018. The antlerless harvest decreased 5% from 17,142 last year to 16,234 this year. Sika deer represented 501 of the total antlered harvest and 589 of the total antlerless harvest and was up 12% overall..,

Deer Kill Down in Montgomery County and Maryland December 18, 2023 Maryland, Montgomery Community Media

... Statewide, 28,236 deer were harvested between Nov. 25 and Dec. 9. That was a 3.2% decrease as compared to the 2022 season in which 29,160 deer were killed..,

Maryland’s Deer Firearm Season Opens with 7% Increase in Harvest November 30, 223 DNR News

... Hunters reported harvesting 10,864 deer  on the opening weekend of the 2023 Maryland firearm season from Nov. 25-26, according to data collected by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The overall deer harvest was 7% higher than last year’s official opening weekend harvest of 10,159 deer...

Maryland’s Deer Firearms Hunting Opens Nov. 25  November 17, 2023 DNR News

... Hunters are reminded that an antler-point restriction remains in effect. Deer hunters may harvest one antlered white-tailed deer within the yearly bag limit that does not meet the requirement of having at least three points on one antler. Any additional antlered deer taken within the established bag limit must meet the minimum point restriction. Licensed junior hunters and apprentice license holders, 16 years of age or younger, are exempt from this restriction...

As firearms season approaches, hunters aim to keep deer population down November 17, 2023 Maryland, Yahoo

... Approximately 125,000 people, or 2% of Maryland’s population, have a license to hunt in the state, a Maryland Department of Natural Resources spokesperson said earlier this year..,

Black Bear Hunt Aims To Maintain Maryland’s Bear Population November 8, 2023 DNR News

... DNR estimates there are about 1,500 to 2,000 black bears in the state, though the number can be difficult to pin down because bears move between states frequently ... Maryland reestablished its bear hunt in 2004, with an average of about 85 bears harvested each year...,

Be alert! Deer breeding season brings rise in Maryland crashes. October 20, 2023 YAHOO!News

...Maryland’s deer population peaked in the early 2000s with a herd of nearly 300,000, but has since held steady at about 230,000, Trudeau said [game mammal section leader for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife and Heritage Service] ..,

Maryland's Muzzleloader Deer Season Opens with New Regulations October 7, 2023 The Southern Maryland Chronicle

... An important antler-point restriction remains in effect. Deer hunters may harvest one antlered white-tailed deer within the yearly bag limit that does not meet the requirement of having at least three points on one antler. Any additional antlered deer taken within the established bag limit must meet the minimum point restriction ..,

Can you fence deer out of crop fields? October 6, 2023 Marlyland, Farm Progress

... Compared to plots without fencing, “The comparison is night and day. It can’t even come close,” he says. “The soybeans are waist-high; corn damage is more spotty. It’s a drop in the bucket compared to the deer damage we had before. You can’t even compare it.”  With the savings in crop damage, Fraley calculates that he has paid for the fencing in just one year...

When deer come to feed, sacrificing some plants may save others October 5, 2023 Maryland, Farm Progress

... Macaulay says the research shows him growers may want to do more to keep deer at the edges of their fields, either by growing a sacrificial crop or even mowing under the trees to allow more sun to penetrate and more foliage to grow...

Archery Deer Hunting Season Opens September 8th Across Maryland September 5, 2023 Southern Maryland News Net

... An antler-point restriction remains in effect. Deer hunters may harvest one antlered white-tailed deer within the yearly bag limit that does not meet the requirement of having at least three points on one antler...

Harford County Special Response Team saves baby deer during training exercise July 1, 2023 Maryland, CBS News

... It was trapped at the bottom of a well. The Special Response Team decided to implement a rappel operation ...

Maryland Department of Natural Resources Announces Revised Hunting License Price Structure June 22, 2023 Maryland Department of Natural Resources News

... Under the new legislation, the price of a resident regular hunting license will increase from $24.50 to $35 while the cost of a non-resident hunting license will increase from $130 to $160... The 2023 legislation also created a new hunting stamp that will be required in order to hunt sika deer. The resident sika deer stamp will cost $10 while the non-resident version will cost $25...

'Deer Summit' sets stage to inform Senate May 22, 2023 Maryland, Southern Maryland Newspapers

... Brian Eyler, from the Department of Natural Resources ... said that despite popular belief, their data indicates a stable deer population...The fee for licenses hunters need also goes back into the economy... That’s $400 million to the state ..,

Maryland data:  The state estimated a stable deer population in 2023 of around 230,000.  A 2022 estimate in the press of 220,000 deer.  The 8% increase in the 2022 deer kill was attributed to more participation by hunters and favorable weather.  A peak population of about 294,000, nearly 300,000 in 2002.

Data and CalculationsMost of the population estimates in the graph above, 1988 to 2018, come from a digitized chart in the Maryland 2022 to 2035 deer plan.  A few come from public sources linked on this page.  Hunting data was used for the years 2019 and 2021.

As of 2023, only about 2% of the state population had a hunting license. Resident hunting licenses rose from $24.50 to $35.  The state enforces antler point restrictions and notes the popular perception that the deer population is increasing, it has been about stable.

A 2020 estimate of 232,000 deer, trending lower in 2021 based on hunting data.  Three years of decline in the hunt going into 2019A state population estimate of 207,000 in 2018.   The decline in the early 2020 deer harvest was partly attributed to weather and an outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) in some counties, but good weather during the firearms season increased the deer kill.  The 2017 population is about the same based on harvest data.  The 2018 harvest shows an 11 percent decline, blamed in part on weather.  About 15,000 sika deer in 2017.  An outbreak of EHD reduced populations in some areas in 2017.  

About 214,000 deer in 2016, pre-hunt and and in huntable areas.  A 2016 report notes that there are isolated places where the deer numbers are still too high, but statewide, particularly on highly pressured public land, it may be time to start scaling back the deer kill.

An estimated 220,000 deer in 2014.  Poor acorn availability in 2015 increased hunter success, but biologists also attribute the hunt decline to fewer deer in some rural areas. An estimated 227,000 deer prior to the 2014 hunting season.  The 8 percent decline in the 2014-15 season reflected lower populations in the south as a result of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD), predation from the growing coyote population in the western mountains, and a good acorn crop which resulted in deer moving around less looking for food.  The modern low point for the deer population was at 199,000 in 2014.

Maryland’s deer population prior to the 2011-2012  hunting season was estimated at 233,000 deer, similar to the 2010-2011 estimate of 235,000.   A population estimate of 234,000 in 2009. Maryland's deer population prior to the 2007-2008 hunting season was estimated at 228,000 deer, a slight decline of about 2.5% over the 2006-2007 estimates of 234,000.   The deer population peaked at about 295,000 in 2002.  Deer population down about 60 percent in Allegany County since 2001. 

Antler restrictions limit hunter to no more than two white-tailed deer within the yearly bag limit that have two or fewer points on each antler.  In order to keep the population down, hunters took about twice as many does as bucks in 2014.  Peak of the rut is November 1 to November 14. Baiting deer for hunting is widespread.

A proposed Antler Point Restriction on killing bucks was abandoned in 2013 in Garrett County because of low fawn survival.  Increased hunter participation and a poor acorn crop that had deer searching for food likely accounted for an increase in the 2013 harvest after a decline in 2012 related to the good acorn crop so deer searched for food less. 

Private land in Maryland typically has less hunting pressure than public land.  Antler restrictions were added in 2014 limiting the number of deer with two or fewer points that a hunter can take.  To manage the herd, the "general rule is to harvest 30-35 percent of the female population to stabilize the herd, and over 40 percent to reduce it..."

About 20 to 30 deer per square mile in the state's deer habitat.   During the 2014 firearms season, more than twice as many antlerless deer were killed than antlered (22,422 vs 10,518), a policy designed to reduce the deer population.  Maryland's deer population prior to the 2009-10 hunting season was estimated at [PDF] 231,000 deer, close to the 2008-09 estimate of 229,000.  

Prior to the 2003-2004 deer hunting season, Maryland’s deer population was estimated at [PDF] 264,000.  In 2014 hunters took 86,883 deer, 27,053 antlered and 56,802 antlerless white-tailed deer; and 1,228 antlered and 1,800 antlerless sika deer.  The deer population was estimated at 140,426 in 1989 and 180,000 in 1990.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)  The first case of CWD was a buck taken in eastern Allegany County in 2010, announced in 2011.  In 2017 of 749 deer tested, 27 were positive.  In 2018 of 561 samples, 25 tested positive.  In 2022, the annual sample turned up 53 deer, by November the total positives were 133 out of 11,592 deer tested since 1999.  For 2023, 52 deer tested positive.  Two deer tested positive in Maryland national parks in 2024.

History  White-tailed deer were abundant in Maryland prior to European settlement.  Unregulated market hunting dramatically reduced the population during the 1700's and through the 1800's when wolf and mountain lions were exterminated from the state. 

 "Maryland’s state law books record the first deer season in 1730, stating: 'For the preservation for the breed of deer, no person within the province (friendly Indians exempted) shall kill any deer between the first day of January and the last day of July. Penalty, 400 pounds of tobacco—one-half to be paid to county schools and one-half to the informer.'  It became necessary to restrict the killing of deer for three years, beginning 1775, and the season was September and October" Source

By the 1900's deer were found only in a few western areas.  As part of conservation efforts to restore the herd, some of these deer were trapped and relocated to other parts of the state.  This practice ended in the 1960's when it was thought the herds had become self sustainable.

State Population Estimates (p. 18)   "The population increased from an estimated 246,000 deer in 1998 to a high of nearly 300,000 individuals in 2002 before declining to an estimated low of 199,000 in 2014. The population was estimated at 207,000 individuals in 2018."

Graph:  1988 to 2018 State Population Estimate (p. 19) Maryland DNR

Sika Deer About 10,000 in 2016 found along the coast.  A few Sika deer, originally from Japan, were released on James Island and on Assateague Island in  1909 and since have spread to lower Dorchester County and the Lower Shore. They live longer than white-tails and are found mostly in different habitat:  forested wetlands and marshes.

Black Bears:  In 2023 as estimated 1,500 to 2,000 bears in the state.

Other useful links:

- Maryland Department of Natural Resources

- Wildlife Rescue:  Follow the the progress of Maryland's first deer sterilization program

- DeerSolutionsMD Solving deer conflicts with education

- Save Wheaton Regional/Montgomery County Park Deer Facebook Page