Proposed Wildlife Regulations

This is a summary of regulation proposals submitted by the Wildlife and Heritage Service. Consult the Maryland Register, Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR), and the Natural Resources Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland for full legal text.

Wildlife and Heritage Service welcomes public comment on proposed regulations. However, only comments provided during the official public comment period specified in the appropriate Maryland Register announcement become part of the official regulatory record. The official public comment period is 30 days after publication of the proposed regulation in the Maryland Register. Receiving comments on the proposal provides the Department with invaluable information and perspectives on the views of the public regarding the proposed regulation that may be incorporated into content or editorial changes. The Maryland Register notice will provide contact information where all official public comments may be sent.

Interpreting proposed regulations requires some understanding of the convention for reading proposed regulation changes as developed by the Department of State Documents. The convention is as follows:

  • Roman type indicates existing text of the regulation.
  • Italic type indicates proposed new text.
  • [Single brackets] indicate text proposed for deletion.
  • (text unchanged) indicates none of the text for that section is proposed to be changed.

2020 Regulation Proposals​

Threatened and Endangered Species
COMAR 08.03.08

Published in the Maryland Register: November 6, 2020
Public Comment Period Ends: December 7, 2020
Scheduled Effective Date: January 14, 2021

Click here to view the proposal​

Comments may be sent to Gwenda Brewer, Science Program Manager, Wildlife and Heritage Service, 580 Taylor Avenue E-1, MD 21401, or call 410-260-8558, or email to gwenda.brewer@maryland.gov, or fax to 410-260-8596.

Purpose of the Changes:

The purpose of this action is to The purpose of this action is to add four new species of animals to the lists of endangered, threatened or in need of conservation, and reclassify 56 species by changing the status of 12 species and removing 44 species. One insect is proposed to be added to the list as endangered. One mollusk and one bird species are proposed to be added to the list as threatened and one mollusk species is proposed to be added to the list as in need of conservation.

A proposal to list a species may occur if it is determined that the species meets the criteria for endangered species, threatened species, or species in need of conservation, as stated in Regulation .01 under COMAR 08.03.08. Legal protection may be warranted due to any of the following factors: present or threatened alterations of the species' habitat or range; overutilization; disease or predation; inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence in the State.

Increased legal protection for the species to be added is warranted because populations are isolated, limited in number, and may be habitat specific; population declines have been documented; and/or habitat alterations threaten the species' continued existence in the State. The rusty-patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) was recently listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its state status is proposed to conform with the new federal status. The yellow lance (Elliptio lanceolata) and a subspecies of the red knot (Calidris canutus rufa) were recently listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and their state statuses are proposed to conform with the new federal statuses. The Appalachian springsnail (Fontigens bottimeri) is proposed as in need of conservation as it is highly specialized and vulnerable to threats that affect the high quality springs found in its limited range.

A change in status may occur if there is an increase in the population of a listed species or additional populations are found in the State for a given species. Intensive field inventories have documented enough new populations for one endangered mollusk species to be proposed as threatened and for two threatened finfish species to be proposed as in need of conservation. Six endangered plant species are proposed as threatened due to the discovery of additional populations, including on protected lands.

A mobile, migratory butterfly species that is an uncommon and irregular resident in the state is proposed to be removed from the State’s endangered species list because it is no longer a conservation target. Recent survey work confirms that one threatened butterfly species and two finfish species listed as in need of conservation are more widespread and less habitat restricted than was previously thought, and these species are proposed to be removed from the State’s threatened and in need of conservation species lists, respectively. Recent survey work confirms that additional populations of one threatened plant species are present in the State on protected lands such that this species no longer warrants threatened species protection. Nine endangered plant species are no longer appropriate conservation targets due to evidence of expanding occurrence in the state, including in anthropogenic habitats. Three additional endangered plant species are proposed to be removed from the endangered species list because voucher specimens of one species were found to be misidentified, one species does not appear to be native to Maryland, and one species no longer meets the definition of a species.

Endangered extirpated species are those species that were once a viable component of the flora and fauna of the State but for which no naturally occurring populations were known since 1950. Upon the discovery of a viable, naturally occurring population or populations of a listed endangered extirpated species, the status of the species is evaluated. Three endangered extirpated plant species have been rediscovered in the State at single locations and are being proposed as endangered. Ten plant species are proposed to be removed from the endangered extirpated list due to additional field inventories. There is no evidence that nine plant species are part of Maryland’s native flora and they are proposed to be removed from the endangered extirpated list. Eight endangered extirpated plant species are proposed to be removed from the list because voucher specimens of four species were found to be misidentified, the status of three species is affected by taxonomic changes or uncertainty, and one species is a hybrid without conservation value.

Fish species designated as endangered or threatened appear both in lists maintained by the Fisheries Service and by the Wildlife and Heritage Service. The Fisheries Service's list appears under COMAR 08.02.12 and the Wildlife and Heritage Service's list appears under COMAR 08.03.08.

The scientific community has changed the scientific names of four dragonflies, five birds, and four plant species, and these names are changed to conform. The common names of two invertebrate species are corrected.


Forest Wildlife – Deer Management Permit Procedures
COMAR 08.03.04.02

Published in the Maryland Register: August 14, 2020
Public Comment Period Ends: September 14, 2020

Scheduled Effective Date:October 19, 2020

Click here to view the proposal.

Comments may be sent to Karina Stonesifer, Associate Director, Wildlife and Heritage Service, 12512 Pleasant Valley Road, Flintstone, MD 21530, or call 301-777-2136, or email to karina.stonesifer@maryland.gov, or fax to 301-777-2029.

Purpose of the Changes:

The purpose of this action is to revise the process for reporting deer taken under the authority of a Deer Management Permit. The new process replaces the need to tag each deer before removing the carcass from the place of kill if a confirmation number has been generated. The new process will allow the person to obtain a confirmation number for each deer taken through an online reporting system in lieu of tagging the deer. If the person does not obtain the confirmation number prior to removing the carcass from the field, the person must still tag the deer and obtain a confirmation number within 24 hours of taking possession of the deer. The new regulation will require the shooter to make a reasonable effort to retrieve and take possession of the wounded or dead deer. In addition, the action would add two counties, Baltimore and Harford, to the list of counties allowing the use of rifles when shooting under the authority of a Deer Management Permit.


Use of Wildlife Areas – Hunting Restrictions on Certain WMAs
COMAR 08.03.02.28

Published in the Maryland Register: July 31, 2020
Public Comment Period Ends: August 31, 2020

Scheduled Effective Date: October 5, 2020

Click here to view the proposal.

Comments may be sent to Karina Stonesifer, Associate Director, Wildlife and Heritage Service, 12512 Pleasant Valley Road, Flintstone, MD 21530, or call 301-777-2136, or email to karina.stonesifer@maryland.gov​, or fax to 301-777-2029.

Purpose of the Changes:

The purpose of this action is to better manage hunter access on the impoundments at Deal Island and Fairmount Wildlife Management Areas. Currently, a lottery system is used to manage the number of hunters who participate only opening day of the season. The new proposed regulations will apply the lottery system to each day of the duck hunting season, thereby reducing hunting pressure, providing better management, and improving the experience of the hunters. The proposed amendments make additional changes to the protocols at the Deal Island Wildlife Management Area and Fairmount Wildlife Management Area impoundments by limiting the number of days that each impoundment will be open during the regular duck hunting season and requiring a permit to hunt. A limited number of permits will be issued. The regular duck hunting season occurs in three segments: one in October, one in November, and one in December through January.


Forest Wildlife – Tagging and Reporting Deer and Wild Turkey
COMAR 08.03.04.03

Published in the Maryland Register: July 31, 2020
Public Comment Period Ends: August 31, 2020
Scheduled Effective Date: October 5, 2020

Click here to view the proposal.​

Comments may be sent to Karina Stonesifer, Associate Director, Wildlife and Heritage Service, 12512 Pleasant Valley Road, Flintstone, MD 21530, or call 301-777-2136, or email to or email to karina.stonesifer@maryland.gov​, or fax to 301-777-2029.

Purpose of the Changes:

The purpose of this action is to establish a process for a person to legally take possession of a deer or turkey killed by means other than hunting such as the result of a vehicle collision. The proposed change replaces the need to obtain a paper nonhunter kill tag from the Department of Natural Resources or local law enforcement agencies, a manual process which is reported as burdensome by all issuing parties. The new process will instead require the person to obtain a confirmation number for the deer or turkey taken into possession through an online reporting system. The person must obtain the confirmation number within 24 hours of taking possession of the deer or turkey.


Upland Game Birds and Mammals - Pheasants
COMAR 08.03.05.03

Published in the Maryland Register: June 19, 2020
Public Comment Period Ends: July 20, 2020
Scheduled Effective Date: August 24, 2020

Comments may be sent to Karina Stonesifer, Associate Director, Wildlife and Heritage Service, Department of Natural Resources, 12512 Pleasant Valley Road, Flintstone, MD 21530, or call 301-777-2136, or email to karina.stonesifer@maryland.gov​, or fax to 301-777-2029.

Purpose of the Changes:

This purpose of this action is to repeal the need to retain proof of sex for pheasants harvested by hunters. The Department of Natural Resources now allows either male or female pheasants to be harvested during the open pheasant season; therefore there is no need to require the head, head plumage, and feet of a harvested pheasant to remain attached in such a manner as to permit identification of the sex of the bird.


Upland Game Birds and Mammals – Crows and Blackbirds
COMAR 08.03.05.03

Published in the Maryland Register: June 19, 2020
Public Comment Period Ends: July 20, 2020
Scheduled Effective Date: August 24, 2020

Click here to view the proposal

Comments may be sent to Karina Stonesifer, Associate Director, Wildlife and Heritage Service, Department of Natural Resources, 12512 Pleasant Valley Road, Flintstone, MD 21530, or call 301-777-2136, or email to karina.stonesifer@maryland.gov​, or fax to 301-777-2029.

Purpose of the Changes:

The purpose of this action is to simplify the regulations for control of crows and blackbirds to conform to the federal regulations for these species. Since crows and blackbirds are considered migratory birds, the control of these species is regulated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Migratory birds are jointly regulated by the Department of Natural Resources. There is a corresponding federal standard to this proposed action, but the proposed action is no more restrictive or stringent.


Waterfowl – Resident Canada Geese
COMAR 08.03.07.10

Published in the Maryland Register: June 19, 2020
Public Comment Period Ends: July 20, 2020
Scheduled Effective Date: August 24, 2020

Click here to view the proposal​

Comments may be sent to Karina Stonesifer, Associate Director, Wildlife and Heritage Service, Department of Natural Resources, 12512 Pleasant Valley Road, Flintstone, MD 21530, or call 301-777-2136, or email to karina.stonesifer@maryland.gov​, or fax to 301-777-2029.

Purpose of the Changes:

The purpose of this action is to amend the Department of Natural Resources regulations regarding control of resident Canada geese such that the State regulations are consistent with recent changes to the federal resident Canada goose depredation order in 50 CFR §21.50 and 50 CFR §21.51. Since resident Canada geese are considered migratory birds, the control of these species is regulated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Migratory birds are jointly regulated by the Department of Natural Resources. The proposed amendments will extend the period when an agricultural producer and their employees and agents can lethally control resident Canada geese causing damage to agricultural crops by 1 month. Another amendment will extend the period when an agricultural producer and their employees and agents may destroy a resident Canada goose nest to any time of year. There is a corresponding federal standard to this proposed action, but the proposed action is no more restrictive or stringent.


Regulated Shooting Areas
COMAR 08.03.13.04 and .05

Published in the Maryland Register: June 19, 2020
Public Comment Period Ends: July 20, 2020
Scheduled Effective Date: August 24, 2020

Click here to view the proposal​

Comments may be sent to Karina Stonesifer, Associate Director, Wildlife and Heritage Service, Department of Natural Resources, 12512 Pleasant Valley Road, Flintstone, MD 21530, or call 301-777-2136, or email to karina.stonesifer@maryland.gov​, or fax to 301-777-2029.

Purpose of the Changes:

The purpose of this action is to clarify that a regulated shooting area cannot include adjacent waters of the State as part of the private regulated shooting area. The proposed amendments also clarify that hunting from the shoreline of a private regulated shooting area is allowed over waters of the State, including placing decoys, retrieving downed birds, and shooting crippled birds on adjacent waters of the State. The person must follow the bag and possession limit for properly marked captive-raised mallards. There is a corresponding federal standard to this proposed action, but the proposed action is not more restrictive or stringent.


General - Definitions
COMAR 08.03.01.01

Published in the Maryland Register: June 5, 2020
Public Comment Period Ends: July 6, 2020
Scheduled Effective Date: August 10, 2020

Click here to view the proposal

Comments may be sent to Karina Stonesifer, Associate Director, Wildlife and Heritage Service, 12512 Pleasant Valley Road, Flintstone, MD 21530, or call 301-777-2136, or email to karina.stonesifer@maryland.gov, or fax to 301-777-2029.

Purpose of the Changes:
The purpose of this action is to amend Regulation .01 to define two new terms, namely “primitive weapon” and “straight-walled cartridge”. Primitive weapon will be defined as a vertical long bow, vertical recurve bow, or other vertical bow that does not use wheels, cams, or other mechanical devices that aid in the drawing of the bow string or the holding of a drawn bow, a flintlock, or a percussion cap sidelock muzzle loading firearm. Straight-walled cartridge will be defined as a bullet casing with straight walls all the way to the projectile used as ammunition for a handgun or rifle while hunting. These definitions will be used in other wildlife hunting regulations.


Open Seasons, Bag Limits for Game Birds and Game Animals
COMAR 08.03.03.03,.04,.05,.07 and .08

Published in the Maryland Register: June 5, 2020
Public Comment Period Ends: July 6, 2020
Scheduled Effective Date: August 10, 2020

Click here to view the proposal

Comments may be sent to Karina Stonesifer, Associate Director, Wildlife and Heritage Service, 12512 Pleasant Valley Road, Flintstone, MD 21530, or call 301-777-2136, or email to karina.stonesifer@maryland.gov, or fax to 301-777-2029.

Purpose of the Changes:
The purpose of this action is to establish the season dates and bag limits for the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 hunting seasons for forest game, upland game, fur-bearing mammals, white-tailed deer, and sika deer. Season dates and bag limits for most species are similar to previous hunting seasons with some exceptions. A 3-day deer hunting season has been added to the archery and muzzleloader seasons in February and only primitive weapons may be used during those days. Deer harvested during the February season count against the normal bag limits for archery and muzzleloaders, except in Region A, where one additional antlerless deer may be harvested. A suburban deer management zone will be established in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard, Montgomery, and Prince George's counties where the bag limit for antlerless deer will be unlimited during the archery season. It is clarified that when the archery and muzzleloader seasons for hunting deer overlap a hunter may only possess one of those weapons while deer hunting. In Region A, hunters will be able to use a Bonus Antlered Deer Stamp to take a second antlered deer when the hunter already harvested one in Region B during the same weapon season.


Forest Game – Devices for Hunting Deer and Black Bear
COMAR 08.03.04.05

Published in the Maryland Register: June 5, 2020
Public Comment Period Ends: July 6, 2020
Scheduled Effective Date: August 10, 2020

Click here to view the proposal​

Comments may be sent to Karina Stonesifer, Associate Director, Wildlife and Heritage Service, 12512 Pleasant Valley Road, Flintstone, MD 21530, or call 301-777-2136, or email to karina.stonesifer@maryland.gov, or fax to 301-777-2029.

Purpose of the Changes:
The purpose of this action is to clarify the use of certain devices for hunt deer. COMAR 08.03.04.05 is amended to allow the use of straight-walled cartridges for hunting deer with a rifle or handgun in certain counties. Another amendment clarifies that, during the days when the deer muzzle loading hunting season and deer archery season overlap, a hunter may possess only one weapon while hunting. A third amendment describes the restrictions for the use of primitive weapons during the February deer muzzle loading and archery seasons.


Landowner Wildlife Damage Control Permit
COMAR 08.03.15.03

Published in the Maryland Register: January 31, 2020
Public Comment Period Ends: March 2, 2020
Scheduled Effective Date: April 6, 2020

Click here to view the proposal

Comments may be submitted be calling, faxing or emailing Glenn Therres at 410-260-8572 (phone), 410-260-8596 (fax) or glenn.therres@maryland.

Purpose of the Changes:

The purpose of this action is to amend Regulation .03 under COMAR 08.03.15 Wildlife Damage Control Permits to allow a landowner experiencing problems with migratory birds to address the problem solely under the authority of a federal depredation permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Existing state regulation requires a landowner to obtain a landowner wildlife damage control permit from the department in order to address damage or loss caused by wildlife. In the case of migratory birds, a federal depredation permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is required, as well. The Department currently meets its regulatory obligation by cosigning federal depredation permits issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; however, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced that it is discontinuing the cosigning practice. Rather than requiring a landowner to redundantly obtain both a permit from the Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department is proposing to require only a federal depredation permit.


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