ANNAPOLIS -- Despite increased urbanization in the last 10 years, Maryland's deer population continues to grow and become more of a nuisance, according to state officials.

"The animal is a lot more adaptable than we ever thought it would be," said Josh Sandt, a wildlife program manager in the state Forest, Parks and Wildlife Service. "We've had them killed on the Baltimore beltway. How they get there, though, we don't know."

The state's deer population stands at about 300,000, officials said. In Western Maryland, where the animals are most prevalent, it's common to find 10 deer in a one-square-mile tract. Now the state must award an increasing number of "antlerless deer" licenses to try to control the population, Sandt said.

During the firearm season from Nov. 28 to Dec. 5, hunters can kill a deer of either sex except in Carroll, Frederick, Washington, Allegany and Garrett counties.

About 20,000 doe permits in those five counties, plus Calvert, Caroline, Cecil, Queen Anne's and Talbot counties, are awarded by a lottery drawing.

Five years ago, the number of antlerless permits was about the same but applied to almost all 23 counties, he said. Now, deer of either sex may be shot in 13 counties without a special permit, he said.

State residents bought 142,500 licenses last year and killed almost 25,000 deer. Because deer bear one to three offspring annually and often live in wooded areas as small as five acres, the herd can double in a year, Sandt said.

The population is not controlled as much as it could be because hunters are reluctant to take antlerless deer, he said. They have been taught not to shoot antlerless deer.

State officials are trying to determine how to control the population, Sandt said. He declined to discuss possible changes, though, because it is unlikely they will be ready for the upcoming legislative session.