Maryland Public Lands Managed by the Wildlife and Heritage Service
The Wildlife & Heritage Service (WHS) oversees the management of 48 Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), ranging in size from under 15 acres to over 30,000 acres. The WMA system encompasses a total just under 115,000 acres, with WMAs located in 18 of Maryland's 23 counties.
Mission of the WMA System
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.
Goals of the WMA System
The Wildlife and Heritage Service manages the WMAs for diverse wildlife populations and their habitats in a number of ways, such as applying prescribed burns, planting food plots, establishing native grasses, managing wetlands and performing timber stand work. Some habitats, such as forested areas, provide for wildlife without any direct management. Providing for wildlife-dependent recreation involves the installation and maintenance of parking lots, roads, trails, boat access facilities, and user areas for the disabled. Property boundaries, signs, and maps are also up-dated, as needed.
WMAs are primarily managed for hunting, trapping and other wildlife-dependent recreational uses. On the more popular areas, a system of lotteries and reservations is in place to avoid over use and conflicts among users. Information about hunting and trapping on public lands in Maryland is updated annually and published in the Guide to Hunting & Trapping in Maryland. Our staff also manages wildlife populations on other DNR properties, including certain State Parks, State Forests and Natural Resource Management Areas, as well as some private lands and local government properties (called Cooperative WMAs).
Expanding Public Use of WMA's
The Wildlife & Heritage Service, working in concert with DNR's Nature Tourism Program, is expanding the public use of WMA properties. For example, the Fishing Bay WMA Water Trail is specially designed for kayak and canoe users with an interest in birding and wildlife photography. This water trail offers an outstanding opportunity for paddlers to observe a variety wetland wildlife species in their native habitats.
For More Information on the Following:
- Wildlife Management Areas
- Public Hunting Lands
- WMA Maps & Information
- WMA Acres by Region
- Public Lands Managed by Region
- Public Dove Fields
- Guide to Marylandís Natural Areas
- Maryland State Parks
- Guide to Hunting and Trapping
- Hunting Seasons Calendar
- Disabled Hunter Access
- About Wildlife & Heritage Service