Bethel Managed Hunting Area (MHA)

Canada Goose in flight, photo by Scott MoodyLocated just south of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal in Chesapeake City, Maryland, this property is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and is leased to the Department of Natural Resources for wildlife management and recreation. Bethel MHA provides habitat for waterfowl, upland game, and forest species, primarily white-tailed deer.

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Management

Bethel MHA is managed by the Wildlife and Heritage Service. The mission of the Wildlife and Heritage Service 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.

Regulations for All Users

Unless otherwise posted or with a permit issued by the Service it is UNLAWFUL to:

  • Operate or possess a vehicle on roads, trails, or waterways not open to general traffic.
  • Bait or feed wildlife.
  • Use or construct permanent blinds or tree stands. All portable blinds or stands must be removed at the end of the day.
  • Ignite, cause to be ignited, or maintain a fire.
  • Camp
  • Remove, disturb, damage, or destroy any mineral, plant, rock, tree, or nongame animal.
  • Have dogs off leash from April 15 through August 15.
  • Use dogs to chase fox and raccoons.
  • Release any animal or plant.
  • Conduct commercial activities.
  • Place a cache for the purpose of geocaching.
  • Operate, possess, or use combustibles, explosives, or fireworks.
  • Dig for relics and treasures, remove prehistoric or historic artifacts, or use a metal detector without a permit from the Office of Archeology.
  • Deposit litter or refuse including, but not limited to, animal carcasses, appliances, brush, debris, furniture, garbage, hazardous material, tires, waste paper, yard waste, or other litter.
  • Vandalize real property including any blind, building, crop, equipment, gate, habitat, plant, road, sign, trail, vehicle, vessel, or other public property.
  • Graze cattle, goats, horses, sheep, or other domestic animals.
  • Place decoys prior to 1 hour before legal shooting hours, leave decoys overnight, or remove decoys later than 1 hour after legal shooting hours.
  • Target shoot.​

Hunting

Public hunting on Bethel MHA is permitted during legal hunting seasons with restrictions (see below). A free permit is required and available from the DNR Wildlife and Heritage Service Gwynnbrook Wildlife Office or online. Hunting is available for all legal game species in accordance with current hunting laws and regulations established by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

  • Click here to apply for the Free Public Hunting Permit.
  • Hunting is allowed only on Saturdays and Sundays year-round. See your Maryland Guide to Hunting and Trapping for available Sunday hunting in Cecil County.​
  • No hunting reservations are required.
  • Waterfowl hunting is allowed anywhere around the pond or in fields. No waterfowl hunting is allowed from the tidal shoreline.
  • Spring Turkey hunting is allowed. Hunters must have the Central Region Public Hunting Permit but no reservations are required.
  • Permitted hunting devices include archery equipment, muzzleloaders and shotguns for small game and furbearers. Deer hunting is archery only. The use of rifles and handguns is prohibited.
  • Some provisions exist for licensed vehicle use on trails for hunters with a Universal Disability Pass.
  • Trapping is allowed by permit only. Contact the Gwynnbrook Wildlife Office at 410-356-9272 for more information.

Non-Hunting Users

Bethel MHA is open year-round to non-hunters. A C&D Canal Lands Non-Hunting Permit is required. Be aware of active hunting seasons. The property is open for the following activities:


Directions

Bethel MHA is located just south of the C & D Canal in Chesapeake City. Take Rt. 213 to Rt. 342 and turn right on to 2nd St. Take 2nd St. to Rt. 286 East (Bethel Road). Five parking lots border the property. For additional information or seasonal permits, contact the Gwynnbrook Wildlife and Heritage Service Office at 410-356-9272.

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Canada goose in flight, photo by Scott Moody


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This area is a part of Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources public land system and is managed by the Wildlife and Heritage Service. The primary mission of the WMA system is to conserve and enhance wildlife populations and their respective habitats as well as to provide public recreational use of the State’s wildlife resources.

Eighty-five percent of the funding for Maryland's state wildlife programs comes from hunting license fees and a federal excise tax on sport hunting devices and ammunition. The federal aid funds are derived from the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration (or Pittman-Robertson) Fund, which sportsmen and women have been contributing to since 1937. Each state receives a share of the funds, which is administered by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service; these funds are used for wildlife conservation and hunter education programs, including the management of the WMA system.

Other sources of funds for land acquisition include Program Open Space Funding for Maryland's State and local parks and conservation areas, provided through The Department of Natural Resources' Program Open Space. Established in 1969, Program Open Space symbolizes Maryland's long-term commitment to conserving natural resources while providing exceptional outdoor recreation opportunities.​