Maryland Public Lands Managed by the
Wildlife and Heritage Service
The Wildlife & Heritage Service (WHS) oversees the management of 64 Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) totaling a little under 128,000 acres, with WMAs located in 19 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
- Maintain, enhance or protect sustainable and diverse wildlife populations.
- Create, enhance or protect appropriate habitats, natural communities and ecologically sensitive areas.
- Conserve rare, threatened and endangered species by protecting the habitats that support them.
- With a focused emphasis on hunting, provide wildlife-dependent recreation on areas with minimal capital improvements or other development.
- Provide a venue to educate citizens on the value and needs of wildlife and plant communities through outreach, demonstration and sound management.
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 department 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 Department of Natural Resources 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.
- General information on public hunting areas Hunting and trapping seasons and bag limits
- Wildlife regulations
- Clarification on hunting licenses, stamps, permits
- Hunter education class schedules
- Information on managed hunts, hunting permit requirements
- Junior Hunter Days Deer/turkey check station inquiries