Wednesday, February 1st, 2023
Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

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MN: Deer kill still lower than 2010

St. Paul – Firearms deer hunters are on track to kill about 5
percent fewer deer than they did last year.

Through Sunday, which was the end of the Zone 1 firearms season,
they had killed and registered 161,000 deer, which is down from the
171,000 they’d killed at the same time last year.

When the deer season wraps up completely, Lou Cornicelli, DNR
wildlife research manager, expects hunters will have killed
slightly fewer animals than they did last year.

The 3B season in the southeast runs through Nov. 27, as does the
season in permit areas 601 and 602; the muzzleloader season runs
Nov. 26 through Dec. 11; and the archery season runs through the
end of the year.

Hunters killed about 207,000 deer last year.

“We’ll probably kill 200,000 deer when it’s all said and done, give
or take a few,” Cornicelli said.

The lower kill can be traced to the opening weekend of the firearms
season, he said.

“The opening weekend stunk,” he said. “That wind just killed
us.”

The firearms kill was down about 20 percent from last year after
opening weekend, but has increased steadily since then. The daily
kill since opening weekend, for the most part, “has been at least
as good as last year, if not substantially better,” Cornicelli
said.

He said he hasn’t yet broken down the harvest by region or permit
area, but will do so after the 3B season ends. Through the first
three days of the 3B season, hunters had killed and registered
2,115 deer, compared with 2,318 last year.

In their weekly reports, several conservation officers from the
southeastern part of the state indicated fewer hunters than 2010
were out for the 3B season opener.

Wolves

Some officers also noted wolves in their weekly reports.

In the Cass Lake area, hunters asked CO Mark Mathy if the wolves
ate all the deer. Around the International Falls area, hunters
complained to CO Darrin Kittelson about seeing more wolves than
deer.

And for Duluth area CO Kipp Duncan, “Usually every conversation
with hunters this deer season included some sort of contact with
wolves. This included seeing them, hearing them, or seeing tracks
in the fresh snow.”

Cornicelli says lower deer numbers in many forested areas of the
state are the result of concerted efforts to reduce deer
numbers.

Cornicelli notes that in recent years “in the forest we have had
record deer harvests in areas that we had record wolf
populations.”

“Is the wolf population managing the deer population? No,” he said.
“People are.”

Diseases

As of Monday, the DNR collected and had tested 2,287 deer in
southeastern Minnesota for chronic wasting disease. The tests that
have come back – 1,562 of them – all have been negative. Of the
samples, 942 came from Permit Area 602, which is the CWD management
area. To date, 834 of those samples have tested negative for the
disease.

In the northwestern part of the state, the DNR collected and sent
in for bovine tuberculosis testing 525 samples. Of those, 322 came
from Permit Area 101, which is the bovine TB area. None of the deer
had apparent indications of the disease.

“We found one that had an abscess in its lymph node, but it’s
looking like it’s not TB,” Cornicelli said.

It takes eight weeks before TB test results are available.

License sales

Deer license sales continue to run ahead of the recent past. As of
Monday, hunters had bought 465,831 deer licenses, which is more
than 7,000 ahead of last year at the same time and the most of any
year since at least 2000.

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