ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota wildlife managers announced rules Wednesday for a “conservative” deer season to rebuild the whitetail population across much of the state.
Hunters will be allowed to shoot only one deer across 95 percent of the state, the Department of Natural Resources said, and the harvest of does will be further restricted.
“To shoot a doe, hunters may have to apply for a permit in areas where they haven’t in the past and, in some places, no antlerless harvest will be allowed,” Leslie McInenly, the DNR’s big game program leader, said in a statement.
McInenly said the DNR is responding to concerns from hunters about current deer populations. Hunters have been complaining that they’re seeing fewer deer in recent years.
“This past winter only added to those concerns, so this year’s conservative approach will protect more antlerless deer, reduce the statewide harvest and allow the population to rebound,” she said.
Boosting populations generally requires restricted harvests of antlerless deer, one-deer limits and issuing few permits in selected zones.
Only bucks can be shot in 14 of the state’s 128 deer permit areas this year. Hunters must enter a lottery to shoot an antlerless deer in 69 other permit areas. Hunters will have the choice of shooting a doe or a buck in 38 areas. Northeastern Minnesota hunters will feel the greatest impact from a bucks-only season.
Hunters can enter the lottery for antlerless permits beginning Aug. 1. The application deadline is Sept. 4. The main firearms deer season opens Nov. 8.
Setting population goals is a balancing act between the wishes of hunters and others who favor larger deer populations against the interests of farmers, foresters, gardeners, motorists and others who experience conflicts with deer.
The DNR says hunters killed over 171,000 deer statewide last year. It was the lowest total since 1998 and the third straight year of decline, mostly due to harvest restrictions aimed at allowing local deer populations to stabilize or rebuild.