Here's what's in the Minnesota DNR's new plan for managing white-tailed deer

It aims to strike a balance between conservation and hunting interests.
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A new white-tailed deer management plan from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources sets a hunting harvest target of 200,000 a year.

The plan, the first of its kind in Minnesota, sets out targets for the management of deer populations in the state over the next 10 years.

Compiled following two years of public meetings and discussions, the DNR sets a target of allowing 200,000 deer to be harvested every year.

This is a compromise target figure given that deer hunting groups had called for a 225,000 harvest target, while biologists had suggested a 190,000 limit, the Star Tribune reports.

The 200,000 figure is about in line with the average harvest. The plan doesn't contain any specifics as to how it will achieve this target, instead using it as a guideline for future management strategies.

It comes after concerns from hunters who have been seeing fewer deer in recent years, with the DNR hoping it will lead to more sustainable numbers moving forward.

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But the plan is about more than just setting hunting targets, it also pledges to aggressively fight chronic wasting disease that is fatal to deer, and maintain quality wildlife habitats.

It also sets out plans to hold regular meetings with interested parties about decisions the DNR wants to take on deer population management, which will include hunters and landowners.

The plan states that the white-tailed deer is the most popular game animal in the state, with 500,000 people every fall taking to the woods to hunt, generating about $500 million for the state's economy.

You can read the full plan here.

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The Department of Natural Resources says the decline is a result of a smaller deer population and a windy opening weekend of the firearms season. Minnesota deer hunters harvested 192,300 deer during the 2011 season. That's 15,000 fewer deer than in 2010. The 2012 deer hunting season begins in September.