In an effort to rebuild the deer population in Minnesota, the Department of Natural Resources has put regulations in place for this year's firearms hunting season which will dramatically reduce the number of animals that hunters can take.
The deer harvest could be as low as 120,000 this year, compared to last year's number of 170,000, according to a DNR news release.
“By design, this year’s deer harvest will be one of the lowest we’ve seen in decades,” said Leslie McInenly, big game program leader.
McInenly said the number of deer in Minnesota's woods is down because of harsh weather the past few winters, as well as more liberal hunting regulations which led to harvest numbers above 200,000 in some years, MPR News reports.
Last winter the DNR even approved spending $170,000 to feed whitetail deer in northeastern Minnesota who couldn't forage because of the deep snow, a highly unusual move.
Hunters have expressed their concerns about lower deer numbers as well, the DNR said, so they instituted the restrictions in hopes of seeing a rebound a few years down the road. The gun deer season in Minnesota begins Nov. 8.
So what's new this year? Here are the main points:
– A one deer per hunter limit in 95 percent of the state.
– In 69 of Minnesota's 128 deer permit areas, hunters must be chosen in a lottery to shoot an antlerless deer.
– In 14 areas, hunters can only take bucks
The greatest impact will be in the northeast, the region hardest hit by severe winter weather the past two years, where most of the area will be buck only. A breakdown of the rules for each permit area is here, and on the map below.