Friday, February 12, 2010

MINNESOTA NEWS: State Deer Harvest Down

Final figures from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources confirm what hunters suspected last fall: The state deer kill was down from 2008.

Hunters took 194,200 whitetails in 2009, about 12 percent fewer than in 2008. The DNR's final figures include archery, firearms and muzzleloader season results.

It was the lowest deer kill since 1999, when hunters took 181,000.

The lower kill was by design, said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big-game program coordinator. After years of high deer numbers and permits, the agency dropped the number of permits last year.

Far fewer antlerless, or doe, permits were allocated, especially in northern Minnesota, because the deer herd there was smaller, Cornicelli said.

Because does are the population engine for a deer herd, DNR managers cut back on those permits last year because the DNR's population goals had been met.

The antlerless deer kill dropped 21 percent last year, compared to 2008, while the buck kill only dropped 1 percent.

It's likely overall permit numbers this fall will remain about the same as last year, although liberal permit numbers will be allowed in southeast Minnesota and north of the Twin Cities where the herd is still large.

"I think in a lot of places, we're where we want to be," Cornicelli said of the deer herd size.

"Most of our high population issues are in the southeast and north metro. And we're still trying to increase the herd in the southwest."

The DNR would like to keep the state's deer kill to a range around 200,000, and not the high levels of 2003-2007, when the deer kill ranged from 291,000 (2003) and 256,000 (2005).

"I think 200,000 might be our deer maintenance harvest," Cornicelli said. "Our polls tell us people view deer hunting about being with family and friends" not a high deer kill, he said.

Archery hunters killed 20,700 deer last year, down 9 percent from 2008. The firearms deer kill was 165,400, down 13 percent, and the muzzleloader kill was 8,100, down 15 percent.

Minnesota hunters killed 99,800 antlerless deer and 94,400 bucks in 2009.

Source: Pioneer Press

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