Nov
09
2005

Deer Hunting

It's deer hunting season in Minnesota. Deer hunting is a major industry in this state, generating $236 million in retail sales in 2001, 4,825 jobs and $122 million in wages. The sale of hunting licenses for deer brought in $19.7 million to the DNR in 2004. The revenue from these licenses account for 29% of the DNR's Game and Fish Fund, which help buy and manage wildlife management areas and fund research on forest animals.

As important as all this is, deer hunting plays an even more critical role in managing the state's deer population. There are more than a million whitetail deer in Minnesota, and due to recent mild winters the population is nearing record numbers.

The record number of deer is having an impact in many parts of the state. Deer grazing is threatening some plant species, such as trillium, wild lily of the valley, and rose twistedstalk. Reforestation of Eastern white pines and white cedar trees is difficult due to deer grazing. Deer related traffic accidents are also a concern, with an estimated 20,000 deer-vehicle crashes annually.

Deer management through hunting is tricky, especially since the DNR cannot predict what the winter weather will be like. Seven of the last eight winters have been milder than average, leading to increased deer numbers despite more liberal hunting policies meant to control the population. Severe winters result in "winterkills" that can reduce the population significantly, but without being able to predict them, the DNR has to make some educated guesses. Another factor that worries the DNR is that while the number of hunters is increasing, it is not increasing at a rate that can control the high population of deer.

As a result, the DNR is loosening restrictions on hunting anterless deer. Hunters used to have to enter a lottery to obtain an anterless permit. Now any hunter can buy them over the counter.

What do you think? What would you suggest to help control the deer population? What do you think about hunting? Do you think it is an effective deer population management strategy? If not, what would you suggest as an alternative?

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

DANA STROMLUND's picture
DANA STROMLUND says:

MY HUSBAND BOW, RIFLE AND MUZZLE LOADER HUNTS. WE EAT DEER FOR MUCH OF THE WINTER. WE EVEN CAN PRESSURE CAN IT. FOR SOME HUNTING IS NOT ALL ABOUT KILLING SOMETHING. IT SAVES US MONEY ON FOOD AND WE GET TO EAT A VARIETY OF MEAT (DEER, DUCK, BEAR AND FISH) ALL HUNTED OR CAUGHT BY US. JUST IN CASE ANYONE IS WONDERING WE LIVE IN THE NORTHERN SUBURBS, NOT IN A RURAL AREA.

posted on Fri, 11/11/2005 - 1:47pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Counties in urban areas activly engage in deer population management. Although deer are beautiful and fun to watch, as the "urban herd" grows, so do problems with human/deer contact. Deer are hosts for Lyme's disease-carrying ticks. Ramsey and Dakota counties sponsor hunting programs to thin the herd. Forced relocation is not legal in Minnesota. As our communites expand, city and county officials will have to find ways for deer and people to co-exist.

posted on Fri, 11/11/2005 - 3:30pm
bryan kennedy's picture

Ticks and Deer

That's a good point about Lyme disease. We had actually written about the link in the deer population and Lyme disease a while ago. Scientists are not sure if the growing deer population is directly linked to the growth of Lyme disease cases, but there does seem to be some correlation.

posted on Wed, 11/16/2005 - 11:23am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

What about Chronic Wasting Disease -CWD- what is the DNR doing to inform the public about that?

posted on Thu, 11/17/2005 - 8:33pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

Doing a quick search for CWD information on google found this brochure from the DNR, which has lots of useful information and links. There is also more information on the DNR's CWD page on their web site.

posted on Thu, 12/01/2005 - 11:02am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

do like fish

posted on Tue, 01/24/2006 - 11:07am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

it kills poor deer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

posted on Mon, 10/16/2006 - 2:57pm
Student's picture
Student says:

What would happen to the deer population in Minnesota if we didnt hunt them? Would the million go up and then equal out because of competition or would it rise indefinately?

posted on Fri, 11/03/2006 - 8:18am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Population dynamics, the science of prediciting how a population will change over time, is a complicated and tricky business. There are lots of variables, many of which can't be predicted. But one thing is certain -- the population can't keep going up forever. Eventually, they will run out of food.

There are three general patterns the deer population might follow:

Equillibrium. As you suggest, the population may grow slowly to a certain point, then level off due to ecological pressures. For instance, when the amount of food the deer eat equals the amount of food that is available, then the system should find a natural balance.

Boom-and-bust. In this situation, the deer population grows quickly and gets too large for their food supply. As food grows scarce, some of the deer starve. Which means the next year, there are fewer deer eating plants. If fewer plants are eaten, then more plants can grow. Which means in the THIRD year, food is plentiful again, the deer population starts to go up, and the cycle starts again. This up-and-down pattern is also perfectly natural -- many animals follow this cycle (though it's not always one year up / next year down. Depending on how long it takes the animal to reproduce, and how long it takes the food to grow, the cycle can take several years to complete.)

Crash-and-burn. This is an extreme situation, where the deer lieterally eat themselves out of house and home. The population grows so fast that they devour all their food sources, and then completely die out. Since deer take a couple years to mature, this is a fairly unlikely scenario.

This site from the West Virginia DNR gives a good introduction to deer population dynamics.

posted on Fri, 11/03/2006 - 10:06am
duck hunting games's picture

There must be another way to manage the deer population rather then hunting. Same goes for duck hunting.

posted on Thu, 03/18/2010 - 4:08am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

ypu shoot them no dur!

posted on Thu, 03/18/2010 - 11:19am
backscracher's picture
backscracher says:

well maybe they can put more of them in zoos or they could make a deer house so that the population can be controled

posted on Thu, 03/18/2010 - 11:49am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Which is worse? Dying locked up in a pen (and maybe even butchered up like cattle), or being able to die wild and free like any other wild animal. What is the difference between us hunting them verse a wolf pack exhausting them to their death? And if we did not hunt them, then they will die a slow and painful death from disease or starvation. Not to decide for the deer but i think they would rather have the short and quick death while living free. There is no life for an animal in a zoo or farm. I say if someone does not like the fact of hunting then they should yell at the wolf and cougar or any other hunter then too and have them eat vegetables as well!

posted on Thu, 04/15/2010 - 1:53am

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