DNR Takes Aim at Southeastern Minnesota Deer Issues

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Just as all politics are local, so too are deer issues.

Recognizing this, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has created a new position to better manage deer and deer hunter-landowner relations in southeastern Minnesota.

Clint Luedtke, a former wildlife biologist from Arizona, has been hired to work with farmers, recreational land owners and others to reduce deer-related crop damage and increase effective deer management strategies.

“Southeast Minnesota is a puzzle we want to solve,” said Dennis Simon, DNR wildlife chief. “So, we have reprioritized our staffing pattern to create a first-ever position that aims to do just that.”

Simon said a number of social and landscape issues – private farms, public forests, absentee landownership, crop depredation, a growing interest in big buck hunting and citizen differences on deer population goals – has created a growing conundrum.

“We don’t have one universal problem in southeast Minnesota,” said Simon. “Instead, there are a lot of isolated problems.” Many of these, he said, occur at the nexus of where farmers are raising crops and nearby recreational landowners are trying to raise crops of more and larger bucks by limiting the deer harvest. Together, this has resulted in increasing crop depredation claims, hard feelings and unfavorable hunter-landowner relations.

“We’re starting a dialogue to identify solutions to this situation,” said Simon. “Our goal is to be innovative, fair and efficient.”

Luedtke earned a fisheries and wildlife degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He has more than four years’ experience coordinating Arizona’s Chronic Wasting Disease program.

Much of Luedtke’s work will involve investigating depredation complaints, providing technical advice to landowners and distributing deer determent materials. He will also make recommendations to local government officials and others on effective deer management strategies.

Said Luedtke, “A big part of my job will be selecting the right tool for the right situation. Sometimes it may be education. In other instances, it could be a localized special hunt, shooting permits, a change in hunting permit numbers or some other action that addresses the legitimate interests of farmers and hunters.”

Luedtke will work out of the DNR’s Whitewater Wildlife Management Area office. He will work primarily in Fillmore, Goodhue, Houston, Olmsted, Wabasha and Winona counties.