More options in this year’s Minnesota deer season
Posted: Thursday, November 6, 2008 8:06 pm
By BRAD DOKKEN
Grand Forks Herald
GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — Regulations are the big news in Minnesota deer hunting this fall.
More specifically, simpler regulations.
New this year, the Department of Natural Resources is allowing hunters to go anywhere in the state without buying a special license.
There’s two license options: Season A, which opens Saturday and is good for any of the state’s three “A” hunting zones (season lengths vary by zone); and Season B, a late license that is good only for southeastern Minnesota.
In the process, the DNR eliminated the multi-zone buck license, a more expensive option that was required to hunt multiple parts of the state. Also gone is the all-season license, another costlier option that hunters had to buy if they wanted to take deer by archery, firearm and muzzleloader.
Now, hunters can buy their licenses “ala carte,” mixing and matching archery, firearm and muzzleloader tags to suit their preferences.
So far, the changes seem to mean less confusion among hunters.
“Hopefully, we accomplished our goal,” said Lou Cornicelli, big game program coordinator for the DNR in St. Paul. “The goal was just to make it easier to understand but not compromise our ability to manage deer. I think it’s gone over pretty well so far.”
The trade off to being able to hunt anywhere, Cornicelli said, is hunters have to know the bag limits for the permit areas they choose to hunt. “Intensive” permit areas, for example, allow hunters to buy as many as five tags. “Managed” permit areas have a two-deer limit, and there’s a one-deer limit in “Lottery” areas, where hunters can only take an antlerless deer if they’ve been selected in the lottery.
“That’s the qualifier with all of this,” Cornicelli said. “We heard loud and clear that people want opportunity, more multiple seasons. If we’re going to offer that, folks have to be aware the bag limit may be less than what they can buy their licenses for. They’re going to have to accept they may not be able to fill all of their tags or go somewhere where they can. That’s the flexibility part.”
Again this year, most of the permit areas in northwestern Minnesota are being managed as “Intensive,” as the DNR continues to tackle a minor outbreak of bovine tuberculosis near Skime, Minn.
All of the areas bordering Permit Area 101, the special bovine TB management area, are “Intensive” this year. That includes Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge, Permit Area 203, which the past two years was a Lottery area with a one-deer limit.
And in 101, hunters can buy an unlimited number of tags to shoot antlerless deer.
“Without a doubt, we’ve got reasonably high deer densities” in northwestern Minnesota, Cornicelli said. “For managed and intensive areas, we’re pretty flush with deer in a lot of places.”
Deer numbers are lower in the western and southern third of the state, where most of the permit areas are designated as Lottery this year.
The DNR again will be collecting tissue samples for bovine TB throughout northwestern Minnesota. The goal is to collect 1,000 samples in the core area, Cornicelli said, and also sample deer in the area from Thief River Falls north to Strathcona, east to Fourtown and north to Warroad.
“We’re going to be pretty apparent in the northwest for most of the deer season,” Cornicelli said. “Most of the stations will have someone there to take samples.”
Since bovine TB first was reported in cattle near Skime in 2005, Cornicelli said 24 deer out of thousands sampled in subsequent testing have tested positive for the disease. That’s a prevalence of less than 0.5 percent.
All of the TB-positive deer were born in 2005 or earlier. That’s cause for optimism, he said, especially if the trend continues in this year’s testing campaign.
“If we’re not seeing pockets of young deer being infected, we’re hoping we got on top of this pretty quickly,” Cornicelli said. “If we don’t see deer born in ‘06 or ‘07 (with TB), we’re probably in pretty good shape.”
Nearly a half-million people, give or take a few thousand, hit the fields and forests for Minnesota’s deer opener. This year, Cornicelli said, license sales are right on track with last year.
Information from: Grand Forks Herald, http://www.grandforksherald.com