Minnesota DNR invites public input on deer population goals

Minnesotans interested in deer populations in certain areas of the state can take an active role in shaping deer population goals during an open public input process starting Monday, Feb. 8.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources sets deer population goals — how much of an increase or decrease is desired in a deer population in a particular deer permit area — as part of managing the state’s wild deer herd. The goals are being updated on a staggered basis in 14 regional goal-setting blocks that comprise multiple deer permit areas. The population goals established in this process will provide direction for management in each goal-setting block for a 10-year period, with a midpoint review at the five-year mark.

This year, to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission and support social distancing measures, the DNR is shifting to online-only engagement, rather than in-person workshops.

“We’re adapting from last year’s new workshop process, mirroring those workshop activities in an online format,” said Barbara Keller, DNR big game program leader. “We’re excited to see how people engage with this topic, and encourage anyone who has an interest in deer management to give feedback on future deer population trends in the areas where they live, work and recreate.”

This is the second year of a four-year, statewide process, with several geographic blocks addressed each year. This year focuses on blocks in the southwestern and northeastern parts of the state. The goal blocks and deer permit areas for this year are as follows:

Minnesota River goal block – 274, 275, 278, 279, 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, 290.
South-Central goal block – 230, 232, 233, 253, 254, 255, 291, 292, 293, 299.
Blufflands Plateau goal block – 234, 237, 238, 250, 252, 286, 288, 289, 294, 295, 296.
Border Uplands/St. Louis Moraines goal block – 119, 132, 171, 173, 176, 177, 178, 179, 181, 199.
Details, including how to participate, are listed on the DNR’s deer goal-setting webpage.

Join the goal-setting process
The DNR will gather public feedback using its online community engagement tool, in two separate phases. During the first phase, from Feb. 8-28, participants may give input on whether the deer population should increase, decrease or stay the same, and share their ideas on deer management. During the second phase, from March 15-25, participants may provide feedback on proposed population goals developed based on input from the first phase and other information available to the DNR.

Anyone may participate, regardless of affiliation or knowledge of the process. Background information about deer management and population goal setting will be provided. Participants who cannot access the webpage through a computer browser or mobile device may provide feedback by calling the local area manager listed on their deer permit area map for the permit areas of interest.

Goal-setting and deer management information
In 2019, the DNR updated its deer population goal-setting process, which previously obtained input through citizen advisory committees and in-person public meetings. The new format design allows more participants and encourages discussion across viewpoints.

In addition to goal setting, anyone can talk directly with area wildlife managers about deer management or attend deer open houses, held statewide outside of the goal-setting process. The open houses are designed to encourage conversations about deer and deer management, enhance local relationships and foster two-way communication between the DNR and the public. More information about open houses is on the DNR website.