ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

DNR sets higher deer population goals for most areas

Minnesota wildlife managers will work to increase deer numbers across much of northern and north central Minnesota under new population goals announced Tuesday by the state Department of Natural Resources.

We are part of The Trust Project.

Minnesota wildlife managers will work to increase deer numbers across much of northern and north central Minnesota under new population goals announced Tuesday by the state Department of Natural Resources. The DNR released its long-term deer goal for 40 of the state's 128 deer-management areas, with 26 of those areas set for an increase in deer population goals. Eight areas will be managed for a stable deer herd and six will be managed for fewer deer than previous goals, although not lower than current numbers. Compared to last year's deer numbers, 85 percent of the permit areas would see higher deer populations and 15 percent remain stable, with no area goal set for a lower population compared with 2014. In areas 156 and 183 south and west of Duluth, for example, the new goal will be 50 percent more deer than 2014. In areas 180 and 122 just north and east of Duluth, the new goal is for a 25 per cent increase. In areas 117 and 127, in and near the Boundary Waters, the goal is for stable populations. Many deer hunters have been complaining in recent years of seeing too few deer in the woods. Indeed, overall deer season harvests have been down after severe winters in 2013 and 2014 and after record-high harvests a decade ago that reduced the herd.
Last fall's deer harvest was about 139,500, compared to a record harvest of 290,000 in 2003, in large part because the DNR issued so few antlerless or doe permits in 2014. The DNR held deer population meetings across the region over the winter, with many hunters saying they wanted more deer. "The new goals largely reflect the desires shared by stakeholders who participated in the deer goal-setting process and generally reflect the public feedback we've heard during the past few years,'' said Steve Merchant, the DNR's wildlife populations manager, in a statement. The new goals will drive how many antlerless or doe hunting permits are available starting this fall, said Tom Landwehr, DNR commissioner. 'In areas where the goal is to increase the deer population, we're going to see fewer permits issued this fall. We're going to be a little more conservative now to boot the population in the long term.'' Landwehr told the News Tribune. The exact number of permits available for the coming season will be announced late this summer. The DNR has been pushed by the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association to increase overall deer numbers. The group had already expressed disappointment that the DNR, as discussions were underway, limited any deer goal increase to 50 percent. Some deer hunters had hoped to see even higher population goals. But not all groups agreed. Some farmers and fans of evergreens said the deer population is too high. In some cases, such as along the North Shore, where deer browsing on white pine is considered a forest health problem, the DNR's earlier goal was to reduce the population. But pressure from hunters helped change that, and now the agency is calling for higher deer numbers in two North Shore permit areas. The DNR previously set new deer population goals for 34 areas in parts of northern, southeastern and southwestern Minnesota over the past three years. The agency said Tuesday it will hold off until setting goals for the remaining 54 deer-permit areas until after a 2016 legislative audit of its deer management program is complete. In the meantime those areas will be managed conservatively, with few antlerless permits issued.Minnesota wildlife managers will work to increase deer numbers across much of northern and north central Minnesota under new population goals announced Tuesday by the state Department of Natural Resources.The DNR released its long-term deer goal for 40 of the state's 128 deer-management areas, with 26 of those areas set for an increase in deer population goals. Eight areas will be managed for a stable deer herd and six will be managed for fewer deer than previous goals, although not lower than current numbers.Compared to last year's deer numbers, 85 percent of the permit areas would see higher deer populations and 15 percent remain stable, with no area goal set for a lower population compared with 2014.In areas 156 and 183 south and west of Duluth, for example, the new goal will be 50 percent more deer than 2014. In areas 180 and 122 just north and east of Duluth, the new goal is for a 25 per cent increase. In areas 117 and 127, in and near the Boundary Waters, the goal is for stable populations.Many deer hunters have been complaining in recent years of seeing too few deer in the woods. Indeed, overall deer season harvests have been down after severe winters in 2013 and 2014 and after record-high harvests a decade ago that reduced the herd.
Last fall's deer harvest was about 139,500, compared to a record harvest of 290,000 in 2003, in large part because the DNR issued so few antlerless or doe permits in 2014.The DNR held deer population meetings across the region over the winter, with many hunters saying they wanted more deer."The new goals largely reflect the desires shared by stakeholders who participated in the deer goal-setting process and generally reflect the public feedback we've heard during the past few years,'' said Steve Merchant, the DNR's wildlife populations manager, in a statement.The new goals will drive how many antlerless or doe hunting permits are available starting this fall, said Tom Landwehr, DNR commissioner.'In areas where the goal is to increase the deer population, we're going to see fewer permits issued this fall. We're going to be a little more conservative now to boot the population in the long term.'' Landwehr told the News Tribune.The exact number of permits available for the coming season will be announced late this summer.The DNR has been pushed by the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association to increase overall deer numbers. The group had already expressed disappointment that the DNR, as discussions were underway, limited any deer goal increase to 50 percent. Some deer hunters had hoped to see even higher population goals.But not all groups agreed. Some farmers and fans of evergreens said the deer population is too high. In some cases, such as along the North Shore, where deer browsing on white pine is considered a forest health problem, the DNR's earlier goal was to reduce the population. But pressure from hunters helped change that, and now the agency is calling for higher deer numbers in two North Shore permit areas.The DNR previously set new deer population goals for 34 areas in parts of northern, southeastern and southwestern Minnesota over the past three years. The agency said Tuesday it will hold off until setting goals for the remaining 54 deer-permit areas until after a 2016 legislative audit of its deer management program is complete. In the meantime those areas will be managed conservatively, with few antlerless permits issued.

Related Topics: ENVIRONMENTHUNTING
John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at jmyers@duluthnews.com.
What to read next
State, local agencies tab accessory dwelling units of 800 square feet or less as solution for homelessness.
The Cowbot would be a way to mow down thistles as a way to control the spread of weeds, "like a Roomba for a pasture," says Eric Buchanan, a renewable energy scientist at the West Central Research and Outreach Center in Morris, Minnesota.
The Red River Valley Water Supply Project will sue farmland owners for eminent domain if they don’t sign easements before July 8, 2022. Farmers say the project is paying one-tenth what others pay for far smaller oil, gas and water pipelines.
Attendees to a recent meeting at a small country church on the border of Minnesota and South Dakota found armed guards at the church entrance. Then someone saw an AR-15, prompting a visit by the sheriff. It's the latest development in a battle for the soul of Singsaas Church near Astoria, South Dakota. The conflict pits a divisive new pastor and his growing nondenominational congregation, who revived the old church, and many descendants of the church's old families, worried about the future of a pioneer legacy.