DNR proposes January antlerless season in southeast Minnesota
St. Paul — The DNR will hold a January hunt in southeastern Minnesota’s Permit Area 603 (the chronic wasting disease management zone), and also is proposing a special antlerless deer hunt in permit areas 346, 348, and 349 that would run at the same time. The dates would be Jan. 6-14, 2018, and the bag limit would be five deer.
The DNR wants to see lower deer numbers in 348 in part because of its proximity to 603, but also because it’s an area where crop depredation has been an issue, according to Steve Merchant, DNR wildlife populations and regulations program manager. Meanwhile, deer populations in 346 and 349 “are chronically over goal,” he said.
“We’ve been unable to achieve goal through our existing hunts,” Merchant said. “Those areas have been intensive harvest and early antlerless for quite some time, and we need to do something to get those populations down.”
He described the proposed January season as an extension of the existing early antlerless season the agency offers in October in those southeastern permit areas. The bag limit for each season would be five.
The agency will hold at least one public meeting in the southeast regarding the proposed season. It will hold another in St. Paul.
“The most important thing is this is a proposed season,” Merchant said. “There’s been no decision by the department whether we are going to implement the season or not.”
Separately, the DNR is changing the bag limit in intensive harvest areas from five to three. That’s in response to concerns from deer hunters that a five-deer limit is excessive, said Merchant, who noted it’s been a “hot topic” since last year’s legislative audit on deer management in the state.
There will be an increased number of intensive harvest areas across the state this fall, he said.
“The deer herd is growing and our job is to manage deer within the population goals that are in effect,” Merchant said. “We need to harvest more deer this year because our deer herd is growing.”
Read next week’s print edition of Outdoor News for a more thorough report on the proposal, including reaction from deer hunters.