Hunters, wildlife watchers, landowners and interested groups can provide their thoughts about deer populations, proposed hunting and trapping season changes, including expanding the youth deer hunting season across the state, allowing smaller-gauged shotguns for wild turkey hunting, and various changes related to the harvest of fisher, pine marten and bobcat.
Anyone can provide input to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources through Sunday, April 21, online at mndnr.gov/input/wildlife-input.html, in writing or by email. Background information on each change is provided online. The questions are for an informal, non-representative survey of DNR stakeholders.
“Every year we consider various changes to our hunting seasons based on suggestions we receive from the public or staff, and we begin the process to evaluate potential biological or social impacts of those proposed changes,” said Leslie McInenly, DNR wildlife populations program manager. “The survey responses will help inform us as we make future decisions on these issues.”
The survey covers an expansion of the youth deer season statewide. The current season is only open for firearms hunting in 15 permit areas in northwestern Minnesota and 13 permit areas in southeastern Minnesota; however, statewide hunter survey data have indicated a preference for a statewide season.
The DNR also is seeking public input on deer populations and observations from the 2018 deer hunting season. The DNR will use this input to inform regulations for the 2019 hunting season, said Barb Keller, DNR big game program supervisor.
“Every year we consider information from a variety of sources as we look to understand deer population trends in each deer permit area,” Keller said. “Local observations provide a useful comparison to the data we collect.”
Information collected through the questionnaire will be combined with comments received at open houses hosted by the DNR throughout the state at the end of March and in early April. Upcoming deer season regulations will be announced mid-summer. More information is available online at mndnr.gov/deer.
For spring wild turkey hunters, a proposed action would eliminate the required lottery entrance for firearms hunters hunting in the A or B seasons. Another action would extend the fall turkey season through November.
The proposals also would: eliminate the requirement that wild turkey hunters use shotguns 20 gauge or larger; allow statewide spring wild turkey hunting except in the three permit areas composed of public hunting land (permit areas 502, 511, 512); and increase the bag limit for fall wild turkey hunting to two in the metro area (permit area 510).
For trapping seasons, the proposals would move the opening date of the fisher, marten and bobcat seasons to late December. They would also require breakaway devices on snares, which would allow accidentally caught animals to escape unharmed.