Citing an opinion from his top legal advisor that calls the ban illegal because it conflicts with state law, County Executive Jim Robey has decided not to enforce the ban.
However, a state lawmaker said he would introduce legislation in next year's Maryland General Assembly that would permit such a ban in Howard County, and an aide said Robey will support that legislation.
In late July, the County Council passed a sweeping revision of its animal control laws that makes it easier for the county to seize dangerous animals. The ban on leg-hold traps was part of that legislation.
Animal rights advocates argued that the traps are inhumane and prohibited in eight states and 89 countries. But farmers and trappers criticized the ban as misguided and complained that it would deprive them of a safe tool for protecting their farms from wildlife.
Among those who testified against the ban was Cody Kittleman, the brother of council member Allan Kittleman.
Shortly before the council's July vote on the ban, Allan Kittleman, a West Friendship Republican, produced a legal opinion from County Solicitor Barbara Cook stating that the county ban would be illegal because it supersedes a state law that regulates the use of the traps.
Rather than unilaterally banning the traps, Howard County must have its name amended to the state law, which allows the ban in some counties. Thus, enacting a ban falls to the General Assembly rather than the County Council.
In July, the council, over the objections of Kittleman and Chris Merdon, a Republican from Ellicott City, refused to remove the ban from the animal control bill, which left the issue in Robey's lap.
Robey also sought legal advice from Cook, who, two weeks ago, rendered the same opinion on the ban.
Del. Neil Quinter, a Columbia Democrat, said he will propose amending Howard County to the state law, which bans traps in Anne Arundel, Montgomery and Prince George's counties.
County Council chairman Guy Guzzone, the chief booster of the animal control bill, said he was disappointed but not discouraged by Robey's decision not to enforce the ban.
At the very least, he said, the council vote "sent a message" to state officials that the county wanted to ban leg-hold traps.
_ Pete Pichaske
Fire marshal neutralizes apparent pipe bomb
An investigation continued this week into a possible explosive device Howard County police found in a roadside ditch in Ellicott City Aug. 30.
At about 4:15 p.m., a passer-by alerted police to the device in the 5000 block of Landing Lane in Ellicott City, said W. Faron Taylor, deputy state fire marshal.
Police normally call in the fire marshal to disarm suspected bombs and explosive devices.
Taylor said the object was lying in a ditch near a construction site.
Howard County police referred to the device as a "pipe bomb" in an Aug. 30 press release.
Members of the state fire marshal's bomb squad inspected and "rendered safe" the object, Taylor said, adding that officials did not detonate the device.
Taylor said the object appeared to be a "homemade explosive device," adding that officials did not determine on the scene whether or not the device was indeed a bomb.
The latter was a job for Howard County police to investigate, he said.
Howard County police could not be reached for comment.
Deer hunts to be held in Howard County parks
For the sixth consecutive year, Howard County will open its parks to deer hunters this fall.
The hunts, to be held at four parks beginning in October, are part of the county's ongoing attempt to control the population of white-tailed deer.
"This is a long-range project," said Gary Arthur, director of the county Department of Recreation and Parks, which directs the hunts.
Since the first hunt in 1999, hunters have killed more than 1,100 deer in the county, Arthur said. The hunts are necessary to stem the growth of the local herd, which damages crops, spreads Lyme disease and contributes to car accidents, he said.
Since the hunts began, native vegetation has improved dramatically in at least one of the parks, Arthur said.
This season's hunts will be held at Alpha Ridge Park, near Woodstock; the planned Blandair Park in Columbia; David Force Park in Ellicott City; and the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area, west of Columbia.
Because Blandair is near to some homes, the hunts there will be limited to bow and arrow.
The hunts will be held on specified days beginning in mid-October and will continue through early February. They will be held only on weekdays and only when county schools are in session.
For a complete schedule or to sign up for a hunt, call the county Department of Recreation and Parks at 410-313-1675.
_ Pete Pichaske
65-year-old woman dies after Ellicott City fire
A 65-year-old Ellicott City woman died Aug. 26 after suffering severe burns in a fire that extensively damaged her house.
Josephine Hill was a patient at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center's burn unit, where she was being treated for burns received in an early-morning fire at her home Aug. 24, officials said.
Hill's husband also was injured in the fire, which occurred in the 2800 block of Dana Court, said Howard County Fire and Rescue Services spokesman Bill Mould.
Ian Hill, 71, was discharged last week from the burn unit, a hospital spokeswoman said. The Hills' daughter, Deborah, was treated and released Aug. 24 from Bayview, Mould said.
The fire began at about 3:45 a.m. on the first floor of the two-story home, Mould said. Investigators ruled the fire's cause accidental, he added.
Officials believe an "electrical malfunction" on the first floor started the blaze, which caused more than $325,000 in damage to the home and its contents, Mould said.
Investigators would not specify the type of malfunction, Mould said. The fire remains under investigation.
_ Penny Colston
Chase, arrests follow holdup in pizza parlor
Howard County police arrested two Baltimore city men in connection with the Aug. 31 robbery of an Ellicott City pizza restaurant.
Police arrested the men in Baltimore city following a chase that began in Ellicott City near the intersection of Rogers Avenue and Baltimore National Pike.
Donte Lamont Dingle and Quinn Marshan Mister, both 31, were arrested near the intersection of Edmondson Avenue and Denison Street in Baltimore, police said.
Police said the men are suspects in the gunpoint robbery Aug. 31 of Domino's Pizza, in the 9400 block of Baltimore National Pike in Ellicott City.
According to police, at around 10 p.m., a man carrying a duffle bag entered the restaurant and pointed a small, black handgun at the restaurant manager.
After ordering the manager to give him a cash-register drawer, the men fled east on Baltimore National Pike in a white "box-style vehicle," police said.
A chase ensued after police called to the scene spotted the vehicle near the intersection of Rogers Avenue and Baltimore National Pike.
The chase continued along Baltimore National Pike into Baltimore County and city, whose police departments joined the pursuit, Howard County police said.
Howard County police arrested two men after their vehicle "drifted" into a parked car near Denison Street and Edmondson Avenue in Baltimore city.
A cash register drawer and cash were recovered at the scene, said police, who did not specify what charges have been leveled against the men.
The incident remained under investigation this week.
_ Penny Colston