There wont be a spring disease hunt

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 25, 2008

Sharpshooters, hunters and landowners have taken 1,028 deer as part of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources efforts to stop the potential spread of bovine tuberculosis in northwestern Minnesota.

&8220;Successful sharpshooting efforts have eliminated the need for a special disease hunt on public lands this spring,&8221; said Paul Telander, DNR northwest region wildlife manager. &8220;Hunters would likely have harvested very few deer due to reduced populations.&8221;

Deer population in the 164 square-mile core of the bovine TB disease management area was estimated at about 800 animals during an aerial survey conducted in January before sharpshooting efforts began. As of April 14, Telander said, aerial sharpshooters had taken 416 deer and ground sharpshooters had taken 398 animals in and near the core area, bringing the 2008 sharpshooting total to 814 animals.

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In addition, landowners have taken 94 deer in an expanded area and a special early January hunt conducted in the deer permit area 101 resulted in hunters harvesting 120 animals.

In 2007, deer population in the 164 square-mile core area was estimated at about 920 animals and sharpshooters took 488 deer.

&8220;Our intent is to keep pressure on this small portion of Minnesota&8217;s 1.2 million wild deer herd until the disease is eliminated,&8221; Telander said. &8220;Landowners have the opportunity to assist us in this effort. But that opportunity carries the responsibility of following the special rules, exercising safety precautions, testing every deer shot and taking special care to respect neighbors and private property.&8221;

DNR recognizes the sacrifice involved for hunters in the core disease management area, he said. But population reduction is a necessary step to remove as many potentially infected animals as possible, increasing the likelihood that the disease can be eliminated in wild deer.