DNR approves new deer population goals
New deer population goals have been approved by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for large portions of northeastern, north-central and east-central Minnesota, covering 40 of 128 deer permit areas in the state.
“These new goals will result in management to increase deer numbers in relation to last year’s levels in most of the 40 permit areas,” said Steve Merchant, wildlife populations manager. “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.”
As a result of this process, 85 percent of the 40 areas will be managed for populations higher than those experienced in 2014; the remaining will see no change.
Comparison to former goals
Of the 40 deer permit areas with new goals, 26 will be managed for deer densities higher than those established by the previous goals; eight will be managed at similar densities to former goals; and six will be managed for densities below former goals. More information about the goals for each deer permit area can be found at www.mndnr.gov/deer.
With respect to the four advisory team recommendations not accepted by the DNR, the agency chose more moderate population increases to better reflect the preferences suggested by hunter and landowner survey data and public input; allow more deer to be harvested; and minimize anticipated deer damage to agricultural lands and forest habitat.
Goals are intended to be in place for three to five years. The DNR shortened the goal timeframe to allow more frequent opportunities to revisit and adjust goals with input from stakeholders.
This is the third year the DNR has worked with citizens and stakeholders to re-assess and re-establish deer population goals in portions of the state. Goals for southwestern and portions of northern Minnesota were set in 2012. Goals for southeastern Minnesota were set last year.
DNR will postpone goal setting in the remaining 54 deer permit areas scheduled for consideration in 2016 until the current legislative audit of Minnesota’s deer population management program is complete.
More information about deer goal setting can be found at www.mndnr.gov/deer.