Audit begins; MDHA seeks statewide deer-plan delay

St. Paul — As the legislative auditor begins to evaluate deer management in the state, the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association has asked the DNR, in some instances, to tap the brakes.

Specifically, MDHA ­– in a letter to Commissioner Tom Landwehr – wants the DNR to delay finalization of this year’s goal-setting process and the start of a statewide deer plan.

“The core of the legislative auditor’s evaluation will naturally focus on areas that are fundamental to the goal-setting process and the development of a statewide deer-management plan,” MDHA Executive Director Craig Engwall wrote in his letter, dated May 5. “Because of this, MDHA thinks it prudent to delay the deer-management planning process until the legislative auditor’s recommendations can be incorporated into that process. DNR, MDHA, and other interested stakeholders will provide input to the Office of the Legislative Auditor during its evaluation of deer management as well as participate in the deer-management planning process. Consequently, all parties would benefit from a delay, so long as DNR agrees to take a conservative approach to deer management in the interim.”

The audit is expected to be completed by the early part of next year.

DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr said the agency hasn’t decided exactly the course to take, but officials were meeting Tuesday to decide how to move forward.

“It’s certainly something we have to consider,” he said.

Before lawmakers approved the audit, Landwehr sent a letter to the chair of the Legislative Audit Commission in support of the audit.

He said audits can be helpful in highlighting areas where improvements might be made.

“It’s good to know where the weaknesses are, and where improvements can be made,” Landwehr said.

He also believes the audit will address the sentiment some hunters have that the deer program needs to be investigated.

“We welcome the audit,” Landwehr said. “Hopefully, we will get past some of the concerns, and some of the suspicions that are out there.” 

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