REGIONAL— Deer hunters will find several new or modified permit areas in northeastern Minnesota this fall as the Department of Natural Resources attempts to better align its management of deer and …
REGIONAL— Deer hunters will find several new or modified permit areas in northeastern Minnesota this fall as the Department of Natural Resources attempts to better align its management of deer and moose in the region.
The change in permit area boundaries will affect existing PAs 176, 122, 127, and 180. The portion of PA 176 located east of Hwy. 135 and the northeastern two-thirds of PA 122 and a portion of PA 180, will become part of new PA 130. A large portion of PA 180 and all of PA 127 will become part of a new PA 131. Permit areas 118, 117, and 126, were already fully within the primary moose range and will not be affected by the change.
Within primary moose range, the DNR will manage for lower but stable deer densities as recommended by the 2014 deer population public advisory committee and the 2011 moose management plan. Outside of primary moose range, deer will be managed for higher densities.
In the past, however, those conflicting management goals proved problematic for DNR wildlife officials, since deer permit areas haven’t always aligned perfectly with the boundaries of the primary moose range. But the newly-devised deer permit areas are either all in or all outside of the primary moose range.
“This won’t take away the controversy over moose and deer management, but it should make the management easier,” said Tower Area DNR Wildlife Manager Tom Rusch.
Ongoing research has demonstrated the need for the DNR to manage for lower deer density within the primary moose range, due to the frequent transmission of diseases and parasites from deer to moose. Deer are the primary host for a type of fatal brain worm and for liver flukes, both of which can kill or severely debilitate moose. Managing deer at lower but stable numbers in primary moose range will reduce disease transmission and allow for habitat and other management activities to benefit moose.
The change in permit areas, and the differing management strategies within and outside of moose range, should mean hunters in some areas will have more opportunities to shoot antlerless deer this fall, particularly in permit areas within moose range. Actually, most permit areas, even those outside moose range, are likely to offer deer hunters more options, according to Rusch. “There will be more opportunity to shoot antlerless deer this fall, statewide, including in the northeast,” he said. That’s because three straight mild winters have left the deer population in recovery mode following extreme winters in 2013 and 2014.