DNR Asks Deer Hunters for Help

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This fall, hunters will be an important part of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' efforts to detect Chronic Wasting Disease in the state's wild deer herd.

In addition to volunteering deer for testing in selected sampling areas, hunters are being asked to take advantage of management and intensive harvest permits to help keep the state's deer population in check.

"Managing deer populations at goal densities is an important part of maintaining a healthy deer herd," said Steve Merchant, DNR forest program leader. "We rely heavily on hunters to help do that."

In the Aitkin area (permit area 154), where CWD was recently discovered in a captive elk, archery hunters will be able to use intensive harvest permits to take up to three additional antlerless deer beginning Sept. 16. Because permit area 154 was recently added to the list of areas where intensive harvest permits would be available, it does not appear in the 2002 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations handbook.

Intensive harvest permits are also available in 40 other permit areas statewide.

Archery hunters in area 154 are being encouraged to submit their deer for CWD testing, provided they identify exactly where the deer was harvested. Archers in this permit area who take an adult deer and are willing to submit it for testing should, after registering their deer, remove the head with about six inches of the neck still attached and bring it as soon as possible to the Aitkin Area Wildlife Office at 1200 Minnesota Avenue South.

If the head cannot be brought in right away it should be refrigerated or put on ice in a cooler until it can be brought to the Aitkin office. Hunters may call the Aitkin office at (218) 927-6915 to make arrangements to drop off a sample.

Current plans call for testing 600 hunter-harvested deer in permit area 154. In addition, 360 samples will be collected from adjacent permit area 247, which will replace permit area 242 in November's testing. The DNR still plans to sample more than 5,000 deer from 15 permit areas statewide.

Statewide, the number of applications for antlerless deer permits, which were due Sept. 5, is close to past years. Although applications for permits that allow hunters to harvest deer of either sex were down about 10 percent this year, Tom Keefe, the DNR licensing supervisor, said the decrease follows a long-term trend.

"We're seeing more hunters who are taking advantage of intensive harvest tags, which can be purchased after the antlerless deer permit deadline," Keefe said.

Due to high deer populations statewide, the DNR offered a record number of antlerless permits this year. When permits available exceed the number of applications, management and intensive harvest permits are made available.

More than 202,000 hunters applied for the 363,765 antlerless deer permits available this year. Last year, hunters applied for 225,279 permits and the DNR offered 284,210 permits.

Intensive harvest permits allow hunters to take up to three additional deer and can be purchased for $13.50 each at more than 1,800 statewide Electronic Licensing System vendors and the DNR's License Center at 500 Lafayette Road in St. Paul.