This week’s column is the first of what I hope becomes a monthly feature where I take a brief look at what the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is up to.
This month we start with the states first ever deer management plan.
The DNR is looking to put a plan into place by 2018 and are looking for help from the public to get that done.
Slots are currently being filled on what is being called the deer management plan advisory committee – a committee what will meet throughout 2017 to review technical information and public input and make recommendations for the development of the plan.
The concept is similar to what the DNR did a couple of years ago with hunter lead groups meeting to help set harvest quotas when the population got too high.
But this time around the focus is statewide as opposed to various local permit areas, said Tower DNR Wildlife Manager Tom Rusch.
Because it is statewide the topics will be more diverse, he added.
According to the DNR, the plan objectives are:
· To describe DNR’s responsibilities and activities related to deer management, including communication and engagement.
· To outline strategic direction and guiding principles for deer management in Minnesota.
· To address regional variation in deer management.
· To include a statewide harvest objective.
Participation on the committee is temporary and the DNR is looking to have 15 to 20 committee members with varying interests. About 15 of those members will come from organizations representing hunting, forestry, agriculture, conservation, transportation and public health.
The other five or so members will be selected from applicants who nominate themselves for the position.
Applications for the at-large seats are being accepted until Wednesday, Oct. 19. The committee will be in place starting in December.
The DNR is hoping to run several meetings for one year – possibly once a month – at a centralized location in the state. There will also be several public meetings and various calls for public comment through mailings and online.
A draft plan could be done by fall of 2017 with a public review of the plan in early 2018. The final plan is scheduled to be done by spring of 2018.
Some of the groups that have been invited to participate in the advisory committee include: the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association; Quality Deer Management Association; Bluffland Whitetails Association; Women Hunting and Fishing in all Seasons; Minnesota Farm Bureau; Minnesota Farmers Union; the 1854 Treaty Authority; Minnesota Conservation Federation; Minnesota Forest Resources Partnership; The Nature Conservancy and the Minnesota Department of Health.
For more information can be found here: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/mammals/deer/management/planning/index.html.
To apply you can complete the online application at that web site by 11 p. m. on Wednesday, Oct. 19. Selected members will be notified by Nov. 21. To request a paper copy of this application, or for questions about the application process, please contact Katie Clower via email at katie. email@example.com or by calling 651-259-5182.
The DNR is also looking for public input on how the agency manages fishing.
Volunteers can apply to join one of five citizen-agency work groups including individual work groups for bass, catfish, panfish and walleye, and one that will focus on both northern pike and muskellunge.
Fisheries officials are looking for opinions from various viewpoints and topics up for discussion are recreation, water quality, habitat and anglings effect on local economies.
Volunteers can apply to one of the five groups through Sunday, Nov. 6. Each group of about 15 people will include volunteers and DNR staff who meet two or three times per year to discuss new research, population, harvest trends and fisheries management. Meetings average three to four hours, not including travel time.
Participants will be selected by the DNR and can serve a term of either two or three years. The groups are advisory and do not make decisions on policy or fish management.
For more information or an application form, visit www.mndnr.gov/fishgroups or call
Finally, a reminder that recreational use of off highway vehicles (OHVs) will be restricted once again this year during the firearms deer season.
Vehicles affected by the restrictions include all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), off-highway motorcycles (OHMs) off-road vehicles (ORVs) and snowmobiles that are not being used in conjunction with deer hunting by a licensed deer hunter.
The restrictions, which apply to state forest trails and access routes but not to state forest roads, aim to protect recreational riders from potentially unsafe riding conditions and to minimize conflicts between deer hunters and recreational riders who may inadvertently disturb them.
Licensed deer hunters may only use an OHV or snowmobile in restricted areas during the legal hunting season:
• Before legal shooting time.
• From 11 a. m. to 2 p. m.
• After legal shooting hours.
Effective dates of the recreational riding restrictions will be:
• Nov. 5-Nov. 20 for the northeastern Minnesota 100 series deer season.
• Nov. 5-Nov. 13 for the Minnesota 200 series deer season.