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Lawmakers to DNR: We want more deer in the north woods

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Legislators told wildlife officials at a Capitol hearing Wednesday there aren't enough deer in Minnesota.

The Pioneer Press reports the hearing held by a House committee amounted to a "stern talking-to" for the agency that manages the state's whitetail herd.

The newspaper says Republican Rep. Tom Hackbarth of Cedar, who chairs the Mining and Outdoor Recreation Policy Committee, said of last fall's deer hunt: "I sat in the stand for five days and didn't see a doe in the woods. We've got huge problems."

The DNR set tight limits on hunting in 2014 as it tries to boost a deer population that plummeted after two straight severe winters.

The comparatively meager harvest of nearly 140,000 deer was the state's smallest in two decades, the Pioneer Press says, and continued a four-year downward trend.

At public hearings around the state this month, the DNR has been gathering public comments in advance of setting regulations for next fall. The last of those hearings is set for Feb. 19 in Grand Marais and written comments are being accepted through the 20th.

Wednesday's chiding from lawmakers was not connected to any specific legislation, and it doesn't sound as though a bill is in the works. Republican Tony Cornish of Vernon Center told the Pioneer Press "I think the whole point was to put a fire under the DNR to tell them to get something done, and we did that."

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