Special Deer Hunts to be Held in 27 State Parks

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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has issued a reminder that special hunts will take place this fall in 27 state parks for those persons selected in the special hunt drawing. While most of the parks will remain open to the public during the hunts, for public safety reasons, a number of parks will have some use restrictions.

For the duration of the hunt, restrictions will range from closing trails or areas of the park, to restricting use of the park to special hunt permit holders only. For example, Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park will be open to the public during the special hunt in the park but the park's horse trails will be closed and use of the other hiking trails is discouraged.

At Afton, Crow Wing, Frontenac, Jay Cooke, Lake Shetek, St. Croix, Savanna Portage, Wild River and William O' Brien state parks, the use of the park is restricted to special permit holders only due to the extensive area being hunted.

PICK UP A MAP AND WEAR BRIGHT COLORS

Visitors who plan to use the parks during the special hunt event should stop at the office when they arrive to pick up a map of the no hunting zones in the park. Maps of these zones or signs also will be posted in various locations in the park.

DNR officials strongly suggest that visitors wear blaze orange while they are in a park that is holding a special hunt and take care to remain within the designated no hunting areas.

Visitors might also think about choosing an alternative park nearby for recreation if a special hunts is being conducted at the park they had planned to visit. For example, Interstate State Park on the St. Croix River is an alternative choice for fall hiking or picnicking on the weekends in early November when nearby Wild River and William O'Brien state parks are holding their hunts.

Likewise, Wild River or William O'Brien would be good alternatives to visit when Interstate holds its hunt late in November.

The public is invited to contact the DNR Information Center at (651) 297-6157 or 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367) for assistance in choosing alternate locations.

YOUTH HUNT NEW THIS YEAR

St. Croix State Park is hosting a youth deer hunt in addition to the regular deer hunt in the park. The hunt was initiated this year outside the regular time frame in order to harvest more deer. During the hunt, the youth hunter must be accompanied by a non-hunting adult.

HUNTS HELP CONTROL EXPLODING DEER POPULATIONS

State parks annually host a number of deer hunts in order to manage park resources.

"Deer are part of the natural communities that we seek to preserve or restore in state parks," said Ed Quinn, resource management coordinator for Minnesota State Parks. "When deer populations in an area become too high, however, they can have significant negative impacts on the natural balance of plant and animal communities. Heavy deer browsing on seedling trees during the winter can nearly eliminate regeneration of some tree species, such as pine. Because of the recent mild winters, the deer population has grown rapidly and damage has increased proportionally." Quinn added that deer browse can also greatly reduce the numbers and variety of wildflowers and other herbaceous plants that grow on the forest floor.

"Techniques, such as bud-capping and exclosures are also used to control levels of deer browse," Quinn said. "Our overall goal is to manage the deer population in the parks so that their numbers are at a level that does not negatively affect the other natural resources. In some cases, that is best accomplished through special hunts."

While most of the hunts are designated for regular firearms, eight parks (as noted below) will hold hunts for muzzleloaders. The hunts at Wild River and Rice Lake state parks include opportunities for hunters with disabilities. At Flandrau State Park, the park is open for use by the public during the city of New Ulm archery deer hunt.

STATE PARKS THAT WILL HOLD SPECIAL HUNTS INCLUDE:

*Afton State Park (Dec. 10-11) Muzzleloader *Crow Wing State Park (Dec. 10-12) Muzzleloader

Flandrau State Park (Part of New Ulm City Hunt Oct. 9-Dec. 31) Archery

Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park (Nov. 20-28) Regular Firearms

*Frontenac State Park (Nov. 20-23) Regular Firearms

Glacial Lakes State Park (Nov. 13-16) Regular Firearms

Gooseberry Falls State Park (Nov. 6-21) Regular Firearms

Great River Bluffs State Park (Nov. 20-22 and Nov. 26-28) Regular Firearms

Hayes Lake State Park (Nov. 6-14) Regular Firearms

****Interstate State Park (Nov. 27-Dec. 5) Muzzleloader

Itasca State Park (Nov. 6-14) Regular Firearms

*Jay Cooke State Park (Nov. 27 - Dec. 1) Muzzleloader

Lake Bemidji State Park (Nov. 6-9) Regular Firearms

Lake Bronson State Park (Nov. 6-8) Regular Firearms

Lake Louise State Park (Nov. 27-28) Muzzleloader

*Lake Shetek State Park (Dec. 4-7) Muzzleloader

Maplewood State Park (Nov. 13-16) Regular Firearms

Rice Lake State Park (Nov. 27-29 and Dec. 4-5) Muzzleloader (Hunting blind will be available for hunters with disabilities)

St. Croix State Park Youth Hunt (Oct. 30-31) Regular Firearms

*St. Croix State Park (Nov. 13-14) Regular Firearms

*Savanna Portage State Park (Nov. 13-21) Regular Firearms

Scenic State Park (Nov. 6-21) Regular Firearms

Sibley State Park (Dec. 4-5) Muzzleloader

**Split Rock Lighthouse State Park (Nov. 6-21) Regular Firearms

***Tettegouche State Park (Nov. 6-21) Regular Firearms

*Wild River State Park (Nov. 6-9) Regular Firearms (Accessible elevated platforms for disabled hunters available.)

*William O'Brien State Park (Nov. 6-7) Regular Firearms

Zippel Bay State Park (Nov. 6-14) Regular Firearms

For more information on special hunts, call the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or1-888-646-6367 or visit the state park pages on the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

*These parks will restrict park use to hunters only.

** At Split Rock Lighthouse, the areas of the park that will remain open to the public include facilities on the Lake Superior side of Highway 61. These include the Lighthouse Historic site, park trail center picnic shelter, pebble beach picnic area, cart-in and backpack sites, Gitchi-Gami State Trail, lakeside hiking trails, Gold Rock Point and the Madeira shipwreck site. Facilities that will be closed to the public include the Superior Hiking Trail and all other park trails on the upper side of Hwy 61.

***In Tettegouche State Park, the only portion of the park that will remain open to the public is on the Lake Superior side of Minnesota State Highway 61. This includes Shovel Point and the mouth of the Baptism River, the park's cart-in campground, Palisade Head and the Baptism River wayside. Please note that the park's main campground, the Illgen Falls cabin and the cabins at Tettegouche Camp will be closed to the public during the hunt.

**** At Interstate Park, the hunt area is confined to parkland on the west side of Highway 8. The park's popular day-use areas including the campground, canoe access, picnic and pothole areas are located on the east side of the highway and will remain open to the public. Hiking trails at Interstate that cross into the hunt area, however, will be marked and closed to the public.