Iowa, Minnesota to study deer hunting differences

Associate Editor

St. Paul Glancing at the landscape, you’d be hard-pressed to
know if you were in southeastern Minnesota or northeastern Iowa.
But when it comes to deer hunting, the differences between those
areas of the two states are unmistakable.

In the near future, biologists from both states hope to study
and compare deer hunting in Iowa and Minnesota, said Lou
Cornicelli, big game specialist for the Minnesota DNR.

“We want to look at the differences in how we manage the deer
population, to learn about deer and other dynamics of deer hunting,
rather than just slapping a collar on a deer and seeing where it
goes,” he said.

Cornicelli said Iowa and Minnesota officials convened one
meeting to discuss such a study. He plans to pursue more meetings
to plan a study path in the near future.

Cornicelli said the deer permit areas in Minnesota included in
such a study would be 347, 348, and 349. In Iowa, whose deer
management units are by county, the counties of Allamakee,
Winneshiek, and Howard would be in the study area.

The deer seasons are quite different in the two states, and in
those areas specifically. Willie Suchy, Iowa DNR wildlife biologist
in Chariton, Iowa, said the shotgun season in the northeast
consists of two seasons, one for five days, the other for nine
days; both occur in December.

Suchy said that shotgun hunting accounts for about 80 percent of
the total harvest of deer in the state.

The area of study in Minnesota would be in Zone 3, where, until
last year one of the two gun hunts was “bucks only.” The two gun
hunts run a total of 16 days.

But even with the longer season, hunter density in Minnesota is
two to three times that of the area to be studied in Iowa.

Along with the differences in hunting seasons and hunter
attitudes, there are some similarities between the two areas. Both
are known to hunters as areas that tend to hold big-antlered bucks,
thanks to good feeding and hiding habitat.

“Allamakee is one of the top trophy counties in the state of
Iowa,” Suchy said.

Further, wildlife managers in both states are encouraging the
harvest of antlerless deer as a means to curb herd growth.

In Minnesota, antlerless permits were issued to those who hunted
the 3A season, once formerly reserved for the hunting of bucks
only. Permits to harvest extra deer are becoming more
available.

In Iowa, just three years ago there were limited number of
antlerless permits available, and most of those were for the
southern part of the state, Suchy said. In 2002, the number of
permits increased to 30,000. That number rose to 50,000 last year
and were available across the state. This year, Suchy said, 80,000
antlerless permits will be available in Iowa.

Winterkill generally isn’t a major issue in Iowa, so why the
growth of the population? “Mostly conservative management during
the mid-90s,” Suchy said.

Officials from both states would like to begin the initial
stages of a study this fall.

“We’re hoping this fall to start studying the human dimension
part of the study, to survey hunter attitudes,” Suchy said.

Eventually, he said, bringing the state of Wisconsin into the
study might yield even more insight into how different management
practices affect the states’ respective deer herds, and also help
determine movement of deer between the states.

Lab to test mystery elk

Cornicelli said five elk samples have been delivered to the
University of Minnesota for disease testing.

The five elk were found in the Kittson County area. While they
didn’t have tags, they were obviously game farm animals, Cornicelli
said. They had holes where tags used to be, and were reported as
“tame” to Donovan Pietruszewski, DNR area wildlife manager in
Kittson County. The elk were part of a crop depredation complaint.
The animals were dispatched and a sample was removed for chronic
wasting disease testing.

“They are clearly animals that were intentionally released,”
Cornicelli said. “But they could be from North Dakota, Canada, or
here; we don’t know.”

Without ear tags, it’s hard to trace the animals, he said. Law
enforcement authorities in the area are investigating the possible
origin of the animals.

“I don’t know what would motivate someone to release the elk,”
Cornicelli said. “But they do represent a risk, for sure.”

Results from the tests should be known within a couple weeks,
Cornicelli said. Just three weeks ago, an elk that was traced to a
North Dakota farm nearly 200 miles away, was shot in Kittson County
and submitted for CWD testing. That elk was tagged.

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