New plan fosters better understanding of deer management, more citizen input

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Comments accepted through May 9; informational meetings begin statewide later this month

Minnesota’s new deer plan sets a new statewide harvest target, increases citizen participation in deer management, and outlines ways to keep the population and habitat healthy. 

The Department of Natural Resources is taking online public comments on the new plan now through Wednesday, May 9. Also, the DNR will hold 35 public meetings in April around the state so people can talk to wildlife managers, ask questions and provide input.

“We’re setting a course for deer management that encourages more dialogue among stakeholders, the public, and DNR staff,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “Our ultimate goal is to support our hunting traditions, better engage the public, and to maintain sustainable, healthy deer populations throughout Minnesota.

Part of the plan outlines strategic ways the DNR will prioritize its resources and activities to meet the plan’s eight key goals, which range from keeping Minnesota deer healthy to ensuring biological and societal factors are considered in management decisions.

“The plan recognizes the diversity of interests, considers multiple objectives, and is informed by the best available science,” said Leslie McInenly, DNR acting wildlife populations and programs manager. “It also factors in ways to reduce the negative impacts deer can have on people and the landscape.”

The plan establishes an annual statewide harvest target of 200,000 deer. Although only one of several performance measures outlined in the plan, the harvest target will help communicate how the DNR is meeting overall population goals through time.

In general, annual harvests less than 200,000 will indicate a need for more conservative regulations to rebuild deer populations. Harvests greater than 200,000 will suggest hunting regulations need to be liberalized so more deer are harvested to reduce populations.

“It’s important for people to know we’ll be measuring our performance in a variety of ways, from increased opportunities for public engagement to improving deer habitat and limiting disease,” McInenly said. “That strategy will inform us if objectives are being met and what areas need more work.”

McInenly added that the plan doesn’t address the details of specific regulations or operational issues, but rather plots a long-term strategic direction for managing the herd.

For more than a year, a 19-member citizen’s advisory group helped the DNR draft the deer plan. The group’s members had knowledge of deer management, interests related to deer and familiarity with different areas of the state.

“I want to express the agency’s great appreciation for the substantial public input and work of committee members in developing the plan,” McInenly said.

Public can now comment on new plan

The public can comment on the proposed plan on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/deerplan.

A questionnaire asks people to indicate their level of satisfaction with the purpose, mission, vision and goals of the plan and provides opportunity for people to give additional feedback on whether the plan reflects the conversation and public input over the last few years.

Also, the DNR’s 35 open-house meetings in April will help people understand the deer plan. “The open houses provide an opportunity to learn more about the plan, ask questions, and meet the local staff who help manage wildlife and habitat,” McInenly said.

There will be no formal presentation at the meetings. Instead, local wildlife staff will provide handouts explaining the deer plan and process and will talk with attendees individually and in small groups. All meetings are scheduled from 6-8 p.m. and people can arrive anytime during the two-hour time frame. Meetings are scheduled at the following locations:

Northwest

  • Baudette, Wednesday, April 18, Lake of the Woods School, 236 15th Ave. SW, IT room.
  • Bemidji, Tuesday, April 24, Bemidji City Hall, 317 4th St. NW.
  • Crookston, Monday, April 16, Crookston Public Library, 110 N Ash St.
  • Detroit Lakes, Thursday, April 26, Minnesota State Community College, 900 Minnesota Highway 34, campus auditorium.
  • Fergus Falls, Wednesday, April 18, Fergus Falls Area Wildlife Office, 1509 First Ave. N.
  • Glenwood, Thursday, April 19, Glenwood Area Wildlife Office, 23070 North Lakeshore Drive.
  • Karlstad, Tuesday, April 17, Lake Bronson State Park Visitor’s Center, 3793 2230th St., Lake Bronson.
  • Park Rapids, Tuesday, April 17, Park Rapids Area Library, 210 1st St. W.
  • Red Lake, Monday, April 16, Hayes Lake State Park, 48990 County Road 4, Roseau.
  • Roseau, Tuesday, April 17, Roseau County Courthouse, 606 5th Ave. SW.
  • Thief Lake, Wednesday, April 18, Thief Lake Area Wildlife Office, 42280 240th Ave. NE, Middle River.
  • Thief River Falls, Tuesday, April 24, Thief River Falls Area Wildlife Office, 246 125th Ave. NE.

Northeast

  • Aitkin, Tuesday, April 17, Aitkin Area DNR Office, 1200 Minnesota Ave S.
  • Brainerd, Wednesday, April 18, Brainerd Area DNR Office, 1601 Minnesota Drive, lower conference room.
  • Cloquet, Wednesday, April 25, Carlton County Transportation and Tax Forfeit Land Department Building, 1630 County Road 61.
  • Grand Rapids, Thursday, April 26, Grand Rapids Regional DNR Office, 1201 E Highway 2, upstairs conference room.
  • International Falls, Tuesday, April 24, Rainy River Community College,  1501 Highway 71, room H124.
  •  Tower, Wednesday, April 18, Mountain Iron Community Center, 8586 Enterprise Drive.
  • Two Harbors, Thursday, April 26, Two Harbors Area Wildlife Office, 1568 Highway 2.

Central/Southeast

  • Cambridge, Thursday, April 26, Cambridge Area Wildlife Office, 800 Oak Savanna Lane SW.
  • Carlos Avery/Forest Lake, Tuesday, April 24, Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area, 5463 W Broadway, conference room.
  •  Little Falls, Tuesday, April 24, Crane Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, 19502 Iris Road.
  • Mille Lacs, Monday, April 23, Mille Lacs Wildlife Management Area Office, 29172 100th Ave.
  • Rochester, Tuesday, April 24, Willow Creek Middle School, 2425 11th Ave. SE
  • Sauk Rapids, Thursday, April 19, Sauk Rapids Area DNR Office, 1035 South Benton Drive.
  • Shakopee, Tuesday, April 24, Shakopee Area Wildlife Office, 7050 E Highway 101.
  • Vermillion, Wednesday, April 25, Rosemount Research & Outreach Center, 16085 Alverno Ave.
  • Whitewater, Thursday, April 26, Whitewater Wildlife Management Area Office, 15035 Highway 74.

Southwest

  • Lac qui Parle and Appleton, Tuesday, April 24, Lac Qui Parle Area DNR Headquarters, 14047 20th St. NW, Watson.
  • Marshall, Tuesday, April 17, Marshall Area DNR Office, 1400 E Lyon.
  • New London, Tuesday, April 17, MnDOT District 8, 2505 Transportation Road, Willmar.
  • Nicollet, Monday, April 16, Nicollet Conservation Club, 46045 471st Lane.
  • Owatonna, Thursday, April 19, Cabela’s, 3900 Cabela Drive.
  • Slayton/Talcot, Wednesday, April 18, Slayton Pizza Ranch, 2306 Broadway Avenue, Slayton.
  • Windom, Thursday, April 26, Windom Community Center, 1750 Cottonwood Lake Drive.

For those who can’t make the meetings, DNR is encouraging the public to contact their local wildlife manager for additional information or to address any questions they may have about the deer plan. A list of area wildlife offices is available online at mndnr.gov/areas/wildlife.

Information about the deer plan, scheduled open houses, background information and a link to submit online comments are on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/deerplan.

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