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Minnesota DNR wants input on deer populations

The 2022 population goal setting includes the Arrowhead and north-central regions.

Deer in snow
The Minnesota DNR is asking for the public's input on deer population goals for the next decade for several areas of the state, including the Arrowhead region, where deer numbers have been down for the past decade.
Steve Kuchera / 2013 file / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is asking for the public’s input on deer populations and trends again in 2022, this time for the Arrowhead region of the state as well as north-central deer units west of Grand Rapids.

This year, the DNR is tackling 28 of the 130 deer units in the state in a process that’s been ongoing for several years.

The process is supposed to help involve the public in setting deer population goals for the next 10 years, with the DNR’s primary management tool the number of antlerless or doe permits issued each hunting season. By issuing more permits, the DNR can help reduce the local deer population. By issuing fewer permits, the population is allowed to grow.

Of course, snowy winters, hunter activity during the season, wolves, disease and other factors play a major role in actual deer numbers.

The public input period opens Jan. 24 and runs through Feb. 13. Participants will be asked to complete an online questionnaire and indicate whether the deer population in a particular area should increase, decrease or stay the same and then also provide their rationale.

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Stretch of tough winters has been worst in 50 years for parts of Arrowhead region.

Online webinars will be offered regionally during the last week in January. These sessions will be recorded and posted online for anyone who can’t watch the live versions.

The webinar for the Arrowhead units is scheduled for Wednesday from 6-7:30 p.m. The webinar for the north-central region is set for Monday, also from 6-7:30 p.m.

deer population goals.jpg
Gary Meader / Duluth News Tribune

“We’re continuing with an online questionnaire this year and adding webinars for those who wish to connect directly with area wildlife managers on this topic,” Barbara Keller, DNR big-game program leader, said in a statement. “We’re excited to have people participate and encourage anyone who has an interest in deer management to give feedback on deer population trends in the areas where they live, work and recreate.”

It’s likely many hunters in the northeastern units will want to see more deer, with populations and hunter harvest down over the last decade thanks to a string of deep-snow winters. Wildlife managers also note that there seems to be a shift in deer on the landscape, away from heavily forested areas to areas with at least some agricultural crops.

This year, the goal setting includes deer management units 117, 118, 126, 130, 131 and 133 in the Superior Uplands or Arrowhead region, north and east of Duluth. They also include deer management units 169, 184, 197, 210 and 298 in the north-central region; units 241, 246, 251, 258, 259 and 287 in the Park Rapids area; and units 341, 342, 343, 344, 643, 645, 646, 647, 648, 649 and 655 in southeastern Minnesota.

Details about each goal block, how to participate in the process, the webinar schedule and how to access the questionnaire are listed on the DNR’s website at mndnr.gov/mammals/deer/management/population.html .

John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at jmyers@duluthnews.com.
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