DNR outlines plan to increase deer population after years of low harvest numbers


Good news for the state's deer hunters who might've come up short last season.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced a plan to increase the deer population across much of the state following a public feedback period – which included complaints there were too few deer in the woods during the last hunt.

According to a DNR news release, the new deer population goals will affect 40 of the state's 128 permit areas in northeastern, north-central and east-central Minnesota.

Of those 40 permit areas, all but six will see the number of deer grow relative to last year's levels.

“The new goals largely reflect the desires shared by stakeholders who participated in the deer goal setting process and generally reflect the public feedback we’ve heard during the past few years,” said wildlife populations manager Steve Merchant.

This comes after a tough decade or so for deer in Minnesota – and for deer hunters, who have been bagging fewer and fewer of them each year.

The number of deer harvested in the 2014 hunt – about 110,000 – is significantly lower than the 160,000 the year before and a far cry from what MPR News describes as a "peak" harvest of 290,000 in 2003.

Last year's light haul was due partly to the DNR's tighter hunting restrictions, an effort to help Minnesota's deer repopulate.

One objection: Goals are too low

One group opposed to the new plan is the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, which the St. Cloud Times says is objecting because the population increase goals are too low.

An official with the group said during the feedback period, citizen groups couldn't recommend population increases of more than 50 percent – a number that some felt was too low. So the group asked the DNR to delay the implementation, the paper reports.

But DNR Fish and Wildlife Division Director Ed Boggess told the Star Tribune they decided to move ahead because citizens wanted to see more deer – and a delay would have meant deer goals that remained lower than most people wanted.

“People wanted to see a change from last year," he told the paper.

The agency says the goals are intended to be in place for the next three to five years.

Less licenses available

Of course, deer populations don't just magically get bigger.

As part of the growth plan, the DNR is continuing to limit the number of hunting permits available in the target areas, so the animals have a chance to reproduce.

"In areas where the goal is to increase the deer population, we're going to see fewer (anterless and doe hunting) permits issued this fall. We're going to be a little more conservative now to boot the population in the long term.'' DNR commissioner Tom Landwehr told the Duluth News Tribune

The paper adds that the "exact number" of permits the agency will issue will be known later this summer.

Next Up

radio station, microphone

Christian music broadcaster revealed as buyers of Go Radio

Educational Media Foundation. operates the K-Love brand, which has a presence already in the Twin Cities.

Screen Shot 2020-12-01 at 5.04.39 PM

St. Paul police chief reportedly fires officer who shot naked, unarmed man

Chief Todd Axtell said the officer's use of force was not reasonable.

Trevor May

Report: Trevor May leaving Twins to sign with Mets

The right-hander will sign a two-year deal to head to New York

Car crash

'Grim' milestone: Minnesota's traffic deaths reach 364, tying 2019 total

“With fewer vehicles on the road during the 2020 pandemic, the loss of life on Minnesota roads is beyond disappointing."

Devin Weiland

Charges: Albert Lea man, 21, fired around 90 shots at police, residents

Weiland was arrested after a standoff that lasted more than eight hours.

Body storage warehouse

Body storage warehouse 'ready if needed for COVID-19 fatality management'

The warehouse is currently storing PPE and testing supplies.


Signs come down at Giordano's restaurant in Uptown

It appears the restaurant has closed for good.

State Capitol.

Walz eyes COVID-19 relief package totaling $300-$600 million amid budget surplus

The state forecasted a budget surplus for the remainder of the biennium.

Bar beer

Walz non-committal on extension of restaurant, gym closures

He has suggested that the ban on mixing with people outside your household could continue over Christmas.

scratch lottery ticket

State lottery: Don't give scratch-offs as gifts to minors

The Minnesota Lottery participates in an annual responsible gambling campaign focusing on underage lottery play during the holidays.

Marijuana, cannabis

Minnesota adds 2 more qualifying conditions for medical marijuana

There will be 17 conditions that qualify people to obtain medical marijuana in Minnesota.


DNR to reconsider deer population goals as hunters express disappointment

Wildlife officials say they're reaching their population goals for deer, but the agency plans to revisit those targets as hunters report they're not seeing the number of deer they've seen in the past. The DNR says hunters bagged 192,300 deer last year. That's down from the peak, 290,000, in 2003.

DNR: Deer harvest down seven percent in 2011

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.