DNR Asks Hunters for Deer Management Comments

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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is asking for comments on two proposed changes to the state's deer management system.

The proposals were developed following the completion last January of the most comprehensive survey of deer hunters ever done in the state. A DNR deer management subcommittee, chaired by Dr. Chris DePerno, DNR farmland wildlife deer biologist at Madelia, formulated the recommendations to improve deer population management and streamline deer management regulations.

The recommended changes are designed to increase the efficiency of deer population management and should also reduce harvest pressure on bucks in some areas. In addition, the proposals would reduce paperwork, administrative costs and regulation complexity, as well as reduce the overall length of firearms deer hunting seasons in southeastern Minnesota, which is primarily private land.

The first recommendation is a statewide proposal to streamline provisions for taking deer of either sex and to simplify the allocation of permits for taking multiple deer. The second recommendation is a proposal to modify the basic deer season structure in Zone 3 (southeastern Minnesota).

"Comments from hunters and landowners are going to be key to this process," said Steve Merchant, DNR Forest Wildlife Program leader and former chair of the DNR's deer committee. "We realize these proposals will represent a significant change for some hunters, particularly in Zone 3, so public involvement is critical."

Three public meetings to discuss the Zone 3 proposals and take public comments will be scheduled in mid-January in southeastern Minnesota. Comments on the statewide proposals can be e-mailed to info@dnr.state.mn.us. Written comments may also be sent to Deer Season Changes, Division of Wildlife, 500 Lafayette Rd., St. Paul, MN 55155-4007.

STATEWIDE PROPOSALS Under the statewide proposal, the DNR would allow firearms deer hunters to purchase either-sex deer licenses over the counter in certain permit areas. Currently, every firearms deer hunter who wants an antlerless permit must go through the DNR permit lottery system.

Permit areas would be designated as unrestricted, management or lottery. Over-the-counter sales of either-sex licenses would be allowed in permit areas designated as unrestricted or management.

  • Unrestricted: Generally, these are permit areas where intensive harvest permits are available under the current system. Hunters would still be allowed to purchase additional intensive harvest licenses at a lower cost.
  • Management: Generally, these are permit areas where only management permits are available under the current system. Hunters would be allowed to purchase one additional management license at a lower cost. No additional intensive harvest licenses would be available in these areas.
  • Lottery: Hunters in these permit areas would receive antlerless permits through a lottery system similar to the one currently in place. No management permits or additional intensive harvest licenses would be available in these areas. Also under the statewide proposal, muzzleloader and archery hunters would be allowed to use one intensive harvest license in a management permit area and the remainder in unrestricted areas. Multi-zone buck and all-season deer license holders would be allowed to purchase management licenses to harvest antlerless deer in specific permit areas.

Comments on statewide proposals will be accepted through Jan. 25. Comments may be e-mailed to info@dnr.state.mn.us. Written comments may be sent to Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Box 7, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4007.

PROPOSED CHANGES TO ZONE 3 SEASON Proposals to change the Zone 3 season structure are aimed at encouraging hunters to harvest adult does and may also increase buck survivorship in southeastern Minnesota.

"The deer population in southeastern Minnesota is a concern," Merchant said. "This proposal should help manage the deer population in general and we hope it will reduce pressure on older bucks in that area."

  • The Zone 3A hunt would be shortened from nine days to five days (Saturday through Wednesday). The season would open on the statewide firearms deer season opener. A limited number of either-sex permits will be available during the 3A season.
  • The Zone 3B season would be lengthened from seven days to nine days and begin the Saturday immediately following the close of the 3A season. Multi-zone buck and all-season deer license holders would be able to participate in the 3B season because the season would be concurrent with other firearms seasons.

"Providing some either-sex permits in 3A will encourage the harvest of adult does," said Lou Cornicelli, big game season specialist for the DNR Division of Wildlife. "It will also reduce the time that 3A hunters will have to harvest bucks."

In addition, Cornicelli said, starting the 3B season earlier will allow a five-day break between the 3B and muzzleloader season, which may increase the muzzleloader harvest. Muzzleloader hunters primarily harvest does.

Three public input meetings will be scheduled in January to discuss the proposed Zone 3 season changes. In addition, hunters may e-mail comments to info@dnr.state.mn.us. Written comments may be sent to Minnesota DNR, Box 7, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4007.