About 5 percent fewer deer being bagged in Minn.

Bemidji, Minn. (AP) – About 5 percent fewer deer are being
harvested in Minnesota this season, a trend that some sporting-good
retailers say is hurting them financially.

A big reason for the decrease is stricter hunting limits. For
the past few years hunters could kill up to five deer, but bag
limits this season were tightened in many areas to just one
deer.

Dennis Simon, a spokesman for the state Department of Natural
Resources, said limits were made too liberal around 2005 when
people in many parts of the state complained there were too many
deer.

Since then, deer populations in some areas have dropped 10 to 50
percent.

Some hunters say the limits are too strict because there are
more than enough deer for the taking. Mark Johnson, a spokesman for
the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association said the DNR did a good job
of reducing the herd size, and now it just needs to maintain a good
population balance.

“From a management standpoint, the DNR’s been doing a good job.
Now it’s the public saying, well, maybe we don’t want that few
deer. Maybe we want more deer again,” Johnson said. “So it’s that
yo-yo back and forth that we’re seeing in play right now.”

Some sporting-good retailers said business was already hurting
because of the economy, and the new rules could be making things
worse.

Fewer hunters are coming into Delaney Sport Center, owner Kevin
Lempola said, and those who are shopping are spending less.
Over-the-counter hunting license sales at his store are down by
nearly 25 percent, marking what he said is a tough financial
blow.

“Over the weekend, if you’re down 70 people coming through your
door on one given day, that amounts to a fair amount of business,”
he said.

Lempola blames the hunting restriction, which he said sends
hunters to the northwestern part of the state where deer
populations are higher and the five-deer bag limit is still in
place.

There are other reasons why hunters are spending less.

The economy, of course, has people watching their spending. But
the weather has been an issue as well. With temperatures warmer
than usual, hunters have spent less money this year on warm
clothing, typically a costly expense.

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