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​

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.


​​​​​​