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Minnesota DNR eyes conservative deer season

DULUTH, Minn. - Wildlife officials with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced deer hunting regulations Tuesday aimed at allowing the deer population to rebound after recent moderate to severe winters.

DULUTH, Minn. – Wildlife officials with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced deer hunting regulations Tuesday aimed at allowing the deer population to rebound after recent moderate to severe winters.
“The good news is, we’re on our way. Last year’s conservative harvest and a mild winter have helped,” said Leslie McInenly, DNR big game program leader.
Minnesota’s statewide deer harvest last fall was just under 140,000, the lowest since the early 1980s. This year’s deer season framework should allow for a harvest of 140,000 to 155,000, McInenly said.
Minnesota’s deer herd has recovered from tough winters before. Severe winters in the late 1990s dropped the deer harvest to about 143,000, McInenly said, and with a series of mild winters, the deer population rebounded within a few years.
“It shouldn’t take too many more years before people consider that we’re back to normal populations,” McInenly said.
Craig Engwall, executive director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, said the group supports the DNR’s deer season framework.
“I’m glad it appears they’re taking a conservative approach,” Engwall said, “which is what MDHA has been calling for. ... It’s great we had a mild winter in northeastern Minnesota, but the herd has been going down for years, and it will take some time to rebuild the herd to a more normal level. It’s appropriate to stay conservative.”
One-deer limits will be the rule across much of the state this fall, DNR officials said.
In 70 of Minnesota’s 128 deer permit areas, hunters must be chosen in a lottery to shoot an antlerless deer. Only bucks can be hunted in 14 areas. In 29 areas statewide, hunters have the choice of shooting a doe or a buck. Bonus permits allowing hunters to shoot more than one deer may only be used in 11 permit areas and for some special hunts.
In bucks-only areas, no antlerless deer may be harvested by any hunter, including those with archery or youth licenses. However, as a result of 2015 legislation, new this year is an exception allowing either-sex harvest by any hunter age 84 and up or by hunters who are residents of veterans’ homes.
Cook writes for the Duluth News Tribune

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