Possibility of better moose health, desire for more deer prompt permit area changes in northeastern Minnesota  

Reducing the passage of parasites and possible disease from deer to moose and increasing the number of deer in areas adjacent to the moose range are the goals of a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources proposed plan to re-align some deer permit area boundaries in northeastern Minnesota. 

Complete details and additional information about the proposal will be on the DNR website on Friday, Feb. 26. Online comments on the proposal will be accepted beginning Feb. 26 and continuing through Sunday, March 13. People without Internet access may send written comments to MNDNR, 500 Lafayette Road Box 4025, St. Paul, Minn., 55155-4025.

Comments will inform a DNR decision on whether to move forward with the proposal, which at the soonest could go into effect for this fall’s 2016 deer hunting season.

“Aligning deer permit area boundaries to the known moose range is part of the DNR’s strategy to promote the health of moose populations in northeastern Minnesota,” said Adam Murkowski, DNR big game program leader. “The nice thing for deer hunters and wildlife watchers is this proposal also allows for growth in deer herds outside the moose range where more deer on the landscape won’t negatively affect moose.”

Preliminary research findings in Minnesota suggest that parasites, including brainworm transmitted by deer, are a contributing factor in a substantial number of both health- and predator-related moose deaths among moose collared in the DNR’s adult moose mortality research project. Deer carry brainworm but suffer no health impacts. The parasite is fatal to moose and has long been suspected to be one of the contributing factors in Minnesota’s moose population decline.

“In response to the moose population decline, Minnesota’s moose management plan requires us to manage for lower deer densities in the moose range,” Murkowski said. “Fewer deer in the moose range minimizes the risk of parasites or disease spread by deer that harm or kill moose.”

Members of the northeast deer goal setting team encouraged the DNR to reconsider deer permit area boundaries out of concern for moose and interest in boosting deer populations where appropriate. The DNR made similar adjustments in the northern part of the moose range in 2010 in response to recommendations of its moose advisory committee but did not adjust deer permit area boundaries in the southern portion of Minnesota’s moose range.

More information on Minnesota’s moose population is on the DNR moose page.