Public comment sought on Minnesota’s first deer plan
Anyone interested in deer can comment on Minnesota’s draft statewide deer management plan now through Wednesday, May 9. Comments can be submitted online at mndnr.gov/deerplan or in writing at the 35 public open houses being held around the state in April where people can talk to wildlife managers and ask questions.
Open houses hosted by DNR area wildlife staff will be held:
- Fergus Falls area, Wednesday, April 18 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Fergus Falls Area Wildlife Office, 1509 First Ave. N., Fergus Falls, Minn.
- Detroit Lakes area, Thursday, April 26 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Minnesota State Community College auditorium, 900 Minnesota Highway 34, Detroit Lakes, Minn.
There will be no formal presentation at the meetings. Instead, local wildlife staff will provide handouts explaining the deer plan and process and will talk with attendees individually and in small groups. People can arrive anytime during the two-hour time frame.
“We’re setting a course for deer management that encourages more dialogue among stakeholders, the public, and DNR staff,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “Our ultimate goal is to support our hunting traditions, better engage the public, and to maintain sustainable, healthy deer populations throughout Minnesota.”
Part of the plan outlines strategic ways the DNR will prioritize its resources and activities to meet the plan’s eight key goals, which range from keeping Minnesota deer healthy to ensuring biological and societal factors are considered in management decisions.
“The plan recognizes the diversity of interests, considers multiple objectives, and is informed by the best available science,” said Leslie McInenly, DNR acting wildlife populations and programs manager. “It also factors in ways to reduce the negative impacts deer can have on people and the landscape.”
The plan establishes an annual statewide harvest target of 200,000 deer. Although only one of several performance measures outlined in the plan, the harvest target will help communicate how the DNR is meeting overall population goals through time.
In general, annual harvests less than 200,000 will indicate a need for more conservative regulations to rebuild deer populations. Harvests greater than 200,000 will suggest hunting regulations need to be liberalized so more deer are harvested to reduce populations.
“It’s important for people to know we’ll be measuring our performance in a variety of ways, from increased opportunities for public engagement to improving deer habitat and limiting disease,” McInenly said. “That strategy will inform us if objectives are being met and what areas need more work.”
McInenly added that the plan doesn’t address the details of specific regulations or operational issues, but rather plots a long-term strategic direction for managing the herd.
For more than a year, a 19-member citizen’s advisory group helped the DNR draft the deer plan. The group’s members had knowledge of deer management, interests related to deer and familiarity with different areas of the state.
“I want to express the agency’s great appreciation for the substantial public input and work of committee members in developing the plan,” McInenly said.
Public can now comment on new plan
The public can comment on the proposed plan on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/deerplan.
A questionnaire asks people to indicate their level of satisfaction with the purpose, mission, vision and goals of the plan and provides opportunity for people to give additional feedback on whether the plan reflects the conversation and public input over the last few years.
Also, the DNR’s 35 open-house meetings in April will help people understand the deer plan. “The open houses provide an opportunity to learn more about the plan, ask questions, and meet the local staff who help manage wildlife and habitat,” McInenly said.
For those who can’t make the meetings, DNR is encouraging the public to contact their local wildlife manager for additional information or to address any questions they may have about the deer plan. A list of area wildlife offices is available online at mndnr.gov/areas/wildlife.
Information about the deer plan, scheduled open houses, background information and a link to submit online comments are on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/deerplan.