DNR mid-summer report: More deer seen after milder winter
An increase in deer numbers appears to be off to a solid start in northeastern Minnesota.
Winter in the northeast wasn’t mild, but it was milder than average. However, compared to some other areas of the state, a deer population recovery in the region can be slower because of factors including a shorter growing season, fewer fawns per doe on average, fewer deer per square mile, winter severity and predation.
With that in mind, wildlife managers are reporting good fawn production overall with single and twin fawns widely reported. Every now and then, triplets are seen. Does appear to have come through the winter healthy enough to support the physical demands of nursing. Fawns are traveling with their mothers at times, are including more vegetation in their diets and appear to have healthy weights for this time of year. Bucks are sporting velvet-covered antlers right now and antler growth is good.
Good fawn production this spring has been a welcomed site in areas where winter severity was extreme in the far northern reaches of the state for three of the last four winters, and where deer populations had declined the most statewide.
In the more southern portions of the northeast region, winter severity was not as extreme, but population numbers are still below target and are being managed for increases.
Along the North Shore and throughout much of the region, last year’s fawns survived the recent milder-than-average winter, and there should be good numbers of yearlings entering the breeding population this fall. Permit areas in the moose range are designated lottery to maintain lower deer populations.
Duluth and some Iron Range communities will hold special in-town hunts to reduce the number of city deer. Permit areas around the Aitkin and Brainerd areas will generally be designated as lottery with a limited number of antlerless tags issued, and more permit areas will be restricted to bucks-only the farther one travels north.