Public comment sought on Minnesota’s first deer plan

Tower area open house Wednesday in Mt. Iron; Moose over deer for NE Minnesota

The Minnesota DNR has released a draft copy of a statewide deer plan. An open house will be held Wednesday from 6-8 p.m. at the in Mt. Iron.
For hunters in the northeast portion of the state, the plan puts moose over deer. The DNR will continue to set low deer population goals wherever moose are present.
“From a moose management perspective, the most feasible and potentially effective management strategy to reduce this negative impact on the moose population is to maintain deer densities on their shared range as low as practical,” the plan states.
Anyone interested in deer can comment on Minnesota’s draft statewide deer management plan now through Wednesday, May 9.
Comments can be submitted online at mndnr.gov/deerplan or at the 35 public open houses being held around the state in April where people can talk to wildlife managers, ask questions and provide input.
An open house hosted by DNR Tower area wildlife staff will be held Wednesday, April 18 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Mountain Iron Community Center.
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. People can arrive anytime during the two-hour time frame.
“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.
The public can comment on the proposed plan on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/deerplan.