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Audit of Minnesota DNR’s Deer Management Plan

deer management feature
Minnesota Birder

After requests from hunters and legislators, the Minnesota DNR’s deer management plan will be audited.

The Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor announced the impending audit on April 17, after urging from the public.

The Minnesota Deer Hunter’s Association, in particular, raised concerns regarding the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource’s (DNR) deer management plan. The MDHA allegedly believes that hunters’ opinions were not fairly considered during the deer population goal-setting process. Others on the goal-setting committee disagree with that viewpoint.

The auditor’s office issued a background paper that lists three possible evaluation issues.

First, how does the DNR estimate and monitor Minnesota’s deer population, and how do those methods compare with other estimation and monitoring approaches?

Second, how does the DNR establish the state’s deer population goals, and how does this compare with methods used by other states?

Third, to what extent do the DNR’s deer population goals reflect an appropriate balance between stakeholder interests?

The auditor’s office also indicated technical expertise would likely be needed to assess the DNR’s deer management plan. The office may require the help of a consultant familiar with the complicated factors involved in wildlife population estimates.

Minnesota’s neighbor state, Wisconsin, recently hired an external whitetail deer expert to undergo a similar process for their DNR agency. As one of the outcomes, a citizen “deer committee” was formed in each county statewide to offer the DNR assistance.

Audit of Minnesota DNR’s Deer Management Plan