Minnesota Sharpshooters Remove Deer

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The sharpshooting effort to remove deer in the bovine tuberculosis (TB) area of northwestern Minnesota, which began in February 2008, concluded on May 9. Sharpshooters, hunters and landowners have taken 1,207 deer since the fall hunting seasons closed as part of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) efforts to stop the potential spread of bovine tuberculosis (TB) in northwestern Minnesota.

The deer population in the 164-square-mile core of the bovine TB disease management area was estimated at 800 animals during an aerial survey conducted in January before sharpshooting efforts began. Aerial sharpshooters took 416 deer and ground sharpshooters took 546 deer in and near the core area, bringing the 2008 sharpshooting total to 962 animals.

During the regular deer seasons, 1,449 deer were harvested in the bovine TB deer permit area. Hunters harvested an additional 120 deer a January special hunt. Since the close of the deer hunting seasons, landowners have taken an additional 125 deer in an area that was expanded to include private lands to the north of deer permit area 101. In total, 2,656 deer have been taken from September 2007 to May 2008.

"The large take is evidence of the extraordinary effort that has been underway since autumn," said Dave Schad, DNR Fish and Wildlife Division director. "This has been a highly successful operation that has gone a long way toward achieving our goal of eliminating bovine TB in deer." Schad added that he appreciates the cooperation of private landowners during this difficult time. "We couldn't have accomplished what we did without the assistance of local citizens and federal sharpshooters. Both deserve our thanks."

Landowners and tenants, and their agents designated in writing, can continue to take deer without a permit in the landowner/tenant area under the provisions of a special emergency rule that took effect March 31. The rule is currently scheduled to expire Aug. 31, but the rule may be modified or ended earlier in the summer based on discussions with local residents and landowners. A final decision will be made in the next several weeks.

The DNR will finalize plans for the fall hunting seasons in this area by July. Specific details on permit area boundaries, special and regular hunts, and other provisions will be announced mid-summer. DNR efforts to eliminate bovine TB in wild deer are part of a cooperative effort with the Board of Animal Health and Minnesota Department of Agriculture to regain the state’s bovine TB-free status.