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.

2016 Regulation Proposals

Hunting Privilege Suspension and Restitution
COMAR 08.03.16.01-.05

Published in the Maryland Register: October 28, 2016
Public Comment Period Ends: November 28, 2016
Scheduled Effective Date: January 2, 2017
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.gov.

Purpose of the Changes:

The purpose of this action is to establish criteria for suspension of hunting privileges in accordance with the Wildlife Poaching Prevention Act of 2012 and to define deer poaching and gross score for clarification purposes for implementing the Poaching Restitution Act of 2016. The Department of Natural Resources has the authority to suspend for a period not exceeding five years the hunting license or hunting privileges of a person who is convicted of a State or federal hunting violation. Landowners hunting on their own property and certain other persons are afforded the privilege to hunt without a hunting license. The Department of Natural Resources proposes through these regulations the violations which will result in the suspension of a person's hunting license or hunting privilege for one, three or five years. Regulations .04 and .05 establish the monetary values of wildlife that the courts may consider when imposing restitution fees for hunting violations.


General Wildlife Hunting Regulations
COMAR 08.03.10.11

Published in the Maryland Register: October 28, 2016
Public Comment Period Ends: November 28, 2016
Scheduled Effective Date: January 2, 2017

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

Purpose of the Changes:

The purpose of this action is to repeal the Regulation that declares the monetary values of certain wildlife species. A new regulation is being proposed under COMAR 08.03.16 Hunting Privilege, Suspension and Restitution that declares the monetary values of certain groups of wildlife. The new regulation may be used by the courts when imposing restitution fees for hunting violations. COMAR 08.03.10.11 will be repealed so as to not conflict with the new monetary value regulation.


Certain Legal Hunting Weapons
COMAR 08.03.04.05-.06, 08.03.05.02 and 08.03.06.05

Published in the Maryland Register:  September 16, 2016
Public Comment Period Ends:  October 17, 2016
Scheduled Effective Date:  November 24, 2016
Click here to view the proposal

Comments may be submitted be calling, faxing or emailing Peter Jayne at 410-827-8612 (phone), 410-827-5186 (fax) or peter.jayne@maryland.gov.

Purpose of the Changes:

The purpose of this action is to authorize the use of air guns as legal hunting weapons for certain game species during certain hunting seasons. The purpose of the proposed amendments are to address the legal status of a new type of weapon known as modern air guns. Air gun technology has changed immensely and some of these weapons are now capable of effectively taking deer and larger game animals. Amendments to these regulations are intended to establish that certain air guns are legal to use when hunting deer, black bears, wild turkeys, certain upland game birds, and furbearers in Maryland. Amendments to COMAR 08.03.04.05 also clarify what aiming devices may be used, what projectile types are legal and what type of gun powder may be used in muzzle loading firearms used for deer or black bear hunting.


Reptile and Amphibian Possession and Permits
COMAR 08.03.11.02 and .16

Published in the Maryland Register: April 15, 2016
Public Comment Period Ends: May 16, 2016
Scheduled Effective Date: June 20, 2016
Click here to view the proposal

Comments may be submitted be calling, faxing or emailing Gwen Brewer at 410-260-8558 (phone), 410-260-8596 (fax) or gwenda.brewer@maryland.gov.

Purpose of the Changes:

The purpose of this action is to provide protection for native amphibians and reptiles from becoming infected with known disease vectors in the course of organized competitions. Emerging infectious viral diseases, such as Ranavirus species, are one of the most important factors contributing to global amphibian declines. This disease, which also affects reptiles, is characterized by rapid onset and mortality. Ranavirus has been confirmed in Maryland to date in eastern box turtle, wood frog, spotted salamander, spring peeper, Cope’s grey treefrog, eastern spadefoot, northern green frog, American bullfrog, and painted turtle. Recent studies show that die-offs of amphibians and reptiles due to Ranavirus are increasing in the state and in the region. Given the increased prevalence of this disease and demonstrated impacts, measures are warranted to reduce the risk of Ranavirus and other infectious diseases for Maryland’s native amphibians and reptiles.

Regulation .16 is proposed to be added to prevent the transmission of Ranavirus and other infectious diseases to native animal populations by preventing exposure to potentially infected animals during the course of competitions such as turtle derbies, turtle races, and frog-jumping contests. Regulation .02 is amended to specifically define competitions for the purposes of COMAR 08.03.11. Competitions using non-native amphibians and reptiles are not prohibited by these regulations.


Threatened and Endangered Species
COMAR 08.03.08.01, .04, .05, .06, .07, .08, .09 and .15

Published in the Maryland Register: January 22, 2016
Public Comment Period Ends: February 22, 2016
Scheduled Effective Date: March 28, 2016
Click here to view the proposal

Comments may be submitted be calling, faxing or emailing Gwen Brewer at 410-260-8558 (phone), 410-260-8596 (fax) or gwenda.brewer@maryland.gov.

Purpose of the Changes:

The purpose of this action is to list 23 new species of animals and plants in need of conservation, or which are endangered, threatened or endangered extirpated, and reclassify 31 species which are currently listed as in need of conservation, threatened, endangered or endangered extirpated, by changing the status of 13 species and removing 18 listed species. Regulations .05, .06, and .08 are proposed to be repealed and replaced due to the large number of plant species common name changes proposed. Regulation .15 is proposed to provide protection for 10 nongame mammal species that are not currently listed as in need of conservation, threatened, or endangered and for one mammal species that is proposed to be delisted.

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.

Eight crustaceans, one fish, one bird, and two plant species are proposed to be added to the list as endangered. One bird species and one bat species are proposed to be added to the list as threatened. One crustacean and six bird species are proposed to be added to the list as in need of conservation. Increased legal protection for these species is warranted because populations are isolated, limited in number, and may be habitat specific; population declines have been documented; and/or habitat loss threaten the species' continued existence in the State. The completion of field inventories for species known to be rare, some of which have been discovered recently in the state, support the proposed listing of two plant species at this time. Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus) was recently listed as endangered and a subspecies of the red knot (Calidris canutus rufa) and northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) were recently listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and their state statuses are proposed to conform with the federal list. The Delmarva fox squirrel (Sciurus niger cinereus) was recently removed from the federal list of threatened and endangered species. We propose to reclassify this species to in need of conservation.

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. Conversely, a change in status may also occur if there is a decrease in the population of a listed species or known populations have gone extinct locally.

Recent declines in the State and increased threats support the listing of two in need of conservation bird species as threatened. Survey work confirms that populations of one threatened plant species have declined and that addition to the State’s endangered species list is warranted. Intensive field inventories have documented enough new populations for one threatened bird species to be proposed as in need of conservation and for one endangered plant species to be proposed as threatened. One fish species and one bird species have been found to be more widespread and less habitat restricted than was previously thought and are proposed to be removed from the State’s threatened species list. One mammal species is proposed to be removed from the in need of conservation list because it has become more common and widespread in Maryland and surrounding states. Recent survey work confirms that additional populations of five endangered and four threatened plant species are present in the State such that these species no longer warrant endangered or threatened species protection. One endangered plant species is proposed to be removed from the State's endangered list because the reported population has never been substantiated.

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. One crustacean species known from a single location is proposed to be listed as endangered extirpated because it has not been relocated after repeated attempts. One bird species is proposed to be listed as endangered extirpated as it has not been documented as breeding in the State for over 90 years and its breeding habitat has been severely reduced. Two endangered bird species are proposed to be listed as endangered extirpated because of habitat loss and range-wide declines. Four endangered plant species are proposed to be listed as endangered extirpated as populations have not been relocated. Upon the discovery of a viable, naturally occurring population or populations of a listed endangered extirpated species, the status of the species is reevaluated. One plant species has been rediscovered in the State at a single location and it is being proposed as endangered. Five plant species are proposed to be removed from the endangered extirpated list due to additional field inventories.

The scientific community has changed the scientific names of one planarian, one butterfly, one fish, one reptile, four bird, two mammal, and twelve plant species. The common names of five mollusk, four crustacean, six insect, two butterfly, one amphibian, six mammal, and 192 plant species have been changed by the scientific community, and these names are proposed to be changed to conform.

Regulation .15 is proposed to provide protection from take for 10 species of nongame mammals by requiring permits to allow take. Permits to allow take are limited to scientific research and educational purposes. Take would also be allowed to address damage to property. Incidental taking permits are not proposed to be required for protected nongame mammals. One species, porcupine, warrants monitoring and some level of protection even though it is proposed to be delisted from in need of conservation status due to recent population increases. Eastern spotted skunk is rare in the region and needs protection from take in Maryland while its conservation status is determined. The remainder of the proposed nongame mammal species are bats, several of which have declined dramatically in recent years due to disease and others that have suffered mortality from regional threats, but population impacts are not yet understood.


Use of Wildlife Areas
COMAR 08.03.02.01-.29 and .31-.38

Published in the Maryland Register: December 28, 2015
Public Comment Period Ends: January 27, 2016
Scheduled Effective Date: March 14, 2016
Click here to view the proposal

Comments may be submitted be calling, faxing or emailing Karina Stonesifer at 310-777-2136 (phone), 301-777-2029 (fax) or karina.stonesifer@maryland.gov.

Purpose of the Changes:

The purpose of this action is to revise the regulations governing the Wildlife Management Area system. The Department of Natural Resources owns and manages 61 Wildlife Management Areas throughout the State, totaling over 120,000 acres. The primary purpose of the Wildlife Management Area system is to conserve and enhance diverse wildlife populations and associated habitats while providing for public enjoyment of the State’s wildlife resources through hunting and other wildlife-dependent recreation. We propose to repeal existing regulations governing these Wildlife Management Areas and replace the existing regulations with new regulations, many of which are similar to the current regulations. The proposed replacement chapter provides an overall update to the use of Wildlife Management Area regulations. Significant updates include revising the list of Wildlife Management Areas, revising the list of public lands open to waterfowl hunting and describing any special regulations, describing permit hunt areas and updating the list of areas open to hunting with a permit, setting time of year parameters when a dog must be leased on a Wildlife Management Area for the protection of ground nesting birds, setting a limit on the size of engines permitted on lakes located on Wildlife Management Areas, restricting the release of animals or plants on Wildlife Management Areas, and prohibiting grazing by livestock on Wildlife Management Areas.


Special Permit – Disabled Persons
COMAR 08.03.10.09

Published in the Maryland Register: December 28, 2015
Public Comment Period Ends: January 27, 2016
Scheduled Effective Date: March 14, 2016
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.gov.

Purpose of the Changes

The purpose of this action is to update the name of the permit which allows a disabled person who has a hunting license to hunt from a stopped vehicle not on a public highway. This action will also update the process for applying for the permit.