Minnesota DNR Decides to Support a Deer Feed in N.E. Part of Sta - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Minnesota DNR Decides to Support a Deer Feed in N.E. Part of State

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A controversial move on the part of the Minnesota DNR. They've decided to approve an emergency feed for white tail deer in north eastern Minnesota. Today Valley News team's Eric Crest fills us in on why the DNR made the decision to put food out for a struggling deer population, and what they're worried about as a result.

Feeding wild deer is not something the DNR supports even during a bad winter. They're much more concerned about deer congregating with all the food in one spot.

"On a population scale deer feeding doesn't do a lot of good. Basically our concerns with disease outweighs saving a few individual deer," says Don Schlutz the area wildlife supervisor at the Fergus Falls DNR office.

But this year was rough enough in parts of north eastern Minnesota that they've decided to work with the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association and feed struggling deer.

"Emergency winter deer feeding is just what it says. It's an emergency," says Mark Johnson the executive director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association.

"We've been opposed to it. But we've got this actual account that's set up for emergency deer feeding," says Schlutz.

The DNR has been collecting fifty cents from every license sold over the last 15 years for emergency feeding and disease control. Just about 10 million dollars was used a couple years back to fight disease across the state. But the DNR hasn't fed the deer population since 1996.

"It's that obligation the DNR has to consider emergency winter deer feeding. And I think that's the reason why we're able to feed this year," says Johnson.

"There's 13 permit areas up in the northeast part of the state," says Schlutz.

"Right now with the extremely low deer populations and second severe winter in a row the cards have stacked up against the deer," Says Johnson.

So the DNR has fingers crossed herding the deer together will have no serious disease impact on populations. And the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association hopes they can help at least a portion of that population.

"Instead of having 4-5-6 survive the winter at that deer yard. Potentially we can have 20-30 survive the winter. And in that case, it makes a huge impact on a local basis," says Johnson.

The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association is volunteering their time to help feed the deer. The feed and the DNR's assistance will likely be about 170-thousand dollars. Which they have been saving up for using a portion of hunting license fees.

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