- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 22, 2003

COLUMBIA, Md. (AP) Howard County has applied for a state permit to send in experienced bowhunters to thin a pesky herd of deer that is eating up feed corn.
The 140 deer that live on the Blandair Farm property wander freely on the 300 acres in the center of suburban Columbia, even crossing busy Route 175 in bunches, say hunters who have seen their tracks.
Without natural predators, the deer have been eating up to 20 percent of the feed corn that Mark Mullinix grows on rented fields on the Blandair property along Oakland Mills Road.
"They're eating us alive," Mr. Mullinix said about the deer on the 60 acres he rents from the county. The deer "do 90 percent of their work at night," he said, so he rarely sees any just what they have wrought.
Phil Norman, Howard County deer project manager, said the county is awaiting a permit from the state based on crop damage to allow the hunt.
The hunt would be managed by Marty Hayes, founder of Suburban White Tail Management of Maryland, a group of experienced hunters who hunt on farmland all over Maryland.
After a permit is issued, the hunt can be scheduled. Hunting would take place only when school is in session, and all the hunters would shoot from elevated stands with their arrows directed downward.
Mr. Norman said the county would allow only bows and arrows because the fields are nearly surrounded by homes.
"Bowhunting is a much less efficient way of harvesting deer based on the amount of effort on the part of the hunters, but safety is extremely high, and it's quiet," Mr. Norman said.
The county sent 754 surveys to residents near the fields and informed the citizens group working on the conversion of Blandair Farm to a park. Of the 397 surveys returned, Mr. Norman said, 65 percent supported hunting.
"I don't have a problem with deer hunting by bow and arrow," said Jillian Borchard, 29, who lives on Shadowfall Terrace across from the fields, although she would like to know exactly when the hunting is to occur because she sometimes walks her dog in the field.
If a date is set, village boards will be notified and the area will be heavily posted, Mr. Norman and Mr. Hayes said.

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