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Minnesota DNR to reassess deer population goals this spring

From Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

-- From 2005 through 2007 the DNR used an extensive public input process to establish deer population goals for Minnesota’s approximately 130 deer permit areas. Now that goal populations have been achieved in most areas, the DNR will use a similar process to reevaluate population goals in 23 permit areas in southwestern and north central Minnesota.

"Hunter dissatisfaction has increased as deer numbers have decreased to meet established goals," said Steve Merchant, wildlife programs manager. "Hunters are expressing disappointment in certain areas where deer populations have increased to meet goals."

The last time the DNR set population goals about half of the state's deer hunting permit areas were slated for deer reductions. Conversely, about 40 percent of permit areas were slated for deer increases. Most of these areas were in the farmland country of western and southern Minnesota. Now nearly 70 percent of deer populations are within goal, while 15 percent remain below goal and 18 percent are above goal.

Merchant said the DNR will begin reassessment by convening meetings of stakeholder input groups in southwest and portions of northern Minnesota. The DNR will also take public comments via its website and will inform the public when the survey is available online.

"We believe that the original stakeholder participants, many of whom were deer hunters, did a good job listening to each other's points of view, and worked hard to reach consensus," said Merchant. "Their input and that of citizens who complete the online survey will give us a good sense of public sentiment."

The entire statewide reassessment process will take more than one year.

It will begin by focusing on the following permit areas 118, 119, 171, 173, 176-179, 181, 199, 234, 237, 238, 250, 252, 279, 286, 288, 289, and 294-296.

The DNR will set regulations for the fall of 2012 that will maintain or increase populations until the statewide goal review process is completed. Acting Big Game Program Leader Erik Thorson will coordinate the reassessment.

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