DNR announces process to revisit deer populations
Preliminary details of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ upcoming 2015 deer population goal-setting process now are available on the DNR website.
“Working with citizens to achieve conservation and management goals is integral to the mission of the DNR,” said Leslie McInenly, DNR big game program leader. “To make sure that goals are based on the broad range of public interest in deer, we use a public process to help determine how many deer to manage for in a given area.”
Deer population goals will be set for 40 of Minnesota’s 128 deer permit areas during the upcoming process, which formally kicks off in October when nominations open for advisory team members and concludes in May 2015 with the announcement of final goals. Large portions of northeastern, north-central and east-central Minnesota will be affected.
Areas selected for goal setting in 2015 are:
- Area 1 – Superior Uplands Arrowhead, which include permit areas 117, 122, 126, 127, 180.
- Area 2 – North Central Plains Moraines, which include permit areas 169, 172, 184, 197, 210, 298.
- Area 3 – Pine Moraines, which include permit areas 241, 242, 246, 248, 251, 258, 259, 287.
- Area 4 – East Central Uplands, which include permit areas 152, 155, 156, 157, 159, 183, 221, 222, 225, 247, 259.
- Area 5 – Sand Plain-Big Woods, which include permit areas 223, 224, 227, 229, 235, 236, 249, 285, 338, 339.
There will be opportunities for broad public input through public meetings as well as online and written questionnaires prior to convening a citizen advisory team for each area. The DNR also is collecting representative data on public desires using hunter and landowner mail surveys administered by the University of Minnesota.
“The public participation process has been designed to include input from anyone who has an interest in deer management,” McInenly said. “Citizen team members also will be selected to represent the range of public interests, including hunting, wildlife viewing, natural resource management and local business interests.”
This is the third year the DNR has worked with citizens to reassess and re-establish deer population goals in Minnesota. Goals for southwestern and a portion of northern Minnesota were set in 2012. Goals for southeastern Minnesota were set last year. Goals for the deer permit areas not part of the 2015 process will be set in 2016.
A timeline showing opportunities for public input is available online. The DNR will seek advisory team nominations for each of the five affected areas in October and select members in January 2015. Each team will review relevant biological and social data as well as public input. Teams will recommend population goals for each deer permit area in their assigned areas. The public will have an opportunity to comment on the advisory teams’ recommendations before the DNR makes its final decision about goals.
White-tailed deer are an important resource to the state of Minnesota. Nearly 500,000 individuals hunt deer and countless other people enjoy viewing deer in the state.
Nationally, deer managers look at deer density goals as a societal issue more so than a biological issue. Deer are capable of achieving high densities so are generally managed at a level of social tolerance rather than managed for the maximum number that can be supported by the habitat. This involves balancing desires of hunters, wildlife watchers and others who may support higher deer densities with those of farmers, foresters or others who experience conflicts with deer who may favor lower deer densities.
People interested in learning more about deer management and public input opportunities during the goal-setting process should subscribe to the DNR’s Deer Notes email newsletter.