Late-season hunters in northwest kill 91 deer

St. Paul – The regular season may have ended, but there’s still
deer hunting to do, at least for another few days.

A late-season hunt in the far northwest part of the state –
intended to stop the potential spread of bovine tuberculosis – has
been ongoing since Dec. 29 and wraps up Sunday, Jan. 13.

As of earlier this week, hunters had killed 91 deer in Permit
Area 101, which includes the area of the state where cattle herds
and wild deer have tested positive for the disease. When it’s all
said and done, the harvest likely will exceed 100 animals,
according to Lou Cornicelli, DNR big-game program coordinator.

“We never expected very many to be killed,” he said. “It’s just
offering an opportunity before we proceed with sharpshooting.”

As of earlier this week, none of the deer that had been killed
appeared to have bovine TB. Four deer killed during last year’s
season tested presumptive positive for the disease.

Officials don’t know exactly how many people are hunting the
late season, but figure the total is between 400 and 500, based on
a 25 percent harvest success rate.

About half of the land in the permit area is publicly owned, and
hunters have been taking advantage of it, said Dave Pauly, the DNR
area wildlife manager in Cambridge who has been working at the
Thief Lake WMA during the hunt.

He’s talked with some local hunters, but many have come from
spots around the area like Fargo/Moorhead, St. Cloud, and the Twin
Cities. It was the first time many of them had hunted in the area,
he said.

“We all were pleasantly surprised by how many people were here
making use of the season,” Pauly said. “They were looking for a way
to extend their opportunity, and many of them were successful.”

Most were firearms hunters, and several of those Pauly saw
harvested more than one deer. He saw one 2.5-year-old buck that had
dropped one of its antlers, while the other bucks were yearlings
that already had dropped their antlers.

There hasn’t been talk of any major concentrations of deer, and
most hunters seem to be making drives and bumping the deer they
eventually shoot, Pauly said. Some hunters, though, have been
hunting out of stands.

“I would say the majority were physically, actively, hunting
deer,” he said.

While deer managers won’t know exactly how many hunters took
part in the hunt, Cornicelli said he will be able to determine
where they said they hunt most often.

“It will give us an idea of whether people are willing to drive
300 miles to shoot a deer,” he said.

Up next

Once the season ends, the DNR will conduct an aerial survey of
the area to determine deer density and distribution. Then, the
agency likely will contract with the U.S. Department of
Agriculture’s Wildlife Services to bring sharpshooters in to
further reduce the population.

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