Minnesotans can take an active role in helping shape deer population goals across the state by attending workshops designed to increase inclusiveness and transparency in the Department of Natural Resources’ decision-making process.
Based on feedback from hunters and others, the DNR is using a new workshop format to facilitate small group discussions to both scope issues and create recommendations. The workshops replace the citizen advisory committees and public meetings that were used during the last round of deer goal setting in 2017.
“Using workshops to gather input opens the doors to include more participants and more viewpoints than the advisory committees used previously, and we’re really looking forward to hearing the conversations and recommendations,” said Barbara Keller, DNR big game program leader. “We encourage anyone who has an interest in deer management to attend these workshops and give feedback on future deer population trends in the areas where they live, work and recreate.”
Using the workshop format is a change based on information from Minnesota’s hunters about how they prefer to provide input, exit interviews of participants from the last round of population goal setting and consultation with the statewide deer advisory committee.
The DNR sets deer population goals – how much of an increase or decrease is desired in a deer population in a particular deer permit area – as part of managing the state’s wild deer herd. Deer population goals will be updated on a staggered basis in 14 regional goal-setting blocks that are made of multiple deer permit areas. The population goals established in this process will provide direction for management over 10 years, with a midpoint review every five years.
The goal-setting process will take four years to complete statewide, with several geographic blocks addressed each year. This year focuses on blocks in the northwestern and western parts of the state. Complete details, including the dates and locations of the workshops are listed on the DNR Web site..
There will be a pair of workshops for each block, each three hours long. During the first workshop, participants will work in small groups to identify key issues of interest and priorities to guide management of the deer population. In the second workshop, participants will discuss solutions to the issues create recommendations for the deer populations in those blocks.
Anyone may attend these workshops, regardless of affiliation or knowledge of the process. Background information will be provided. Attendees are highly encouraged to RSVP online.
Those who are unable to attend the workshops can still participate in the goal-setting process. There will be online comment opportunities supplementing the workshops, including an online questionnaire that will be on the DNR Web site in January. The public will also be able to comment on the draft population goals that result from the goal-setting process.
In addition to goal setting, there are other ways to provide input about deer management. As in prior years, anyone can talk directory with area wildlife managers or attend deer open houses (information about open houses found at www.dnr.state.mn.us.
- Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources