Minnesota Deer Population: About 950,000 deer in 2020, 935,000 in 2019, and 960,000 in 2018. Mild winters in 2020-21 and 2021-22 except in the north with overall populations about stable, but weather contributed to lower populations in 2022. A modest downward trend from an estimated population of 1 million deer in 2016 and 2017. Up from about 850,000 deer in 2015, 800,000 in 2014. DNR's 2022-23 deer forecast. A hard 2018-19 winter dramatically reduced the population in the north Mild winters and fewer antlerless permits account for the upward trend into 2018, numbers still down in the northeast. The deer harvest peaked in 2003 and the population trended down from then into 2013.


Minnesota Deer News

Moose habitat planning effort receives America the Beautiful Challenge grant January 19, 2023 Minnesota, DNR News

... A federal grant award will fund collaborative planning by the DNR to further large-scale moose habitat restoration in northeast Minnesota. The award from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, through the America the Beautiful Challenge, will provide $443,600 to the DNR for the planning effort, with a goal of an implementation plan for moose habitat restoration on three areas of 10,000 to 50,000 contiguous acres each...


DNR invites public input on deer population goals January 17, 2023 Minnesota, Northland Press

... “We’re excited to hear people’s thoughts and encourage anyone with an interest in deer management to give feedback on deer population trends in the areas where they live, work and recreate,” said Todd Froberg, DNR big game program coordinator... Beginning Monday, Jan. 23 ...


Chronic Wasting Disease Interview January 9, 2023. Minnesota House of Representatives

... “About 20 deer have tested positive for chronic wasting disease in Minnesota since July first of 2022. State Representative Rick Hansen says a comprehensive package of reforms to address chronic wasting disease will be a legislative priority. Hansen chairs the Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy Committee. Hansen says the DFL-controlled legislature is likely to approve transferring authority over deer farms to the Department of Natural Resource ...


DNR finalizes wolf management plan, learn what it means for deer and moose in northern Minnesota January 5, 2023 Minnesota, WTIP

... The DNR estimates that the moose population lingers between 3000-4000. Compared to upwards of 8000 in 2005... moose in northeastern Minnesota appear to be declining primarily due to high mortality, fewer breeding-age females, and reduced numbers of calves surviving to adulthood ... in the northeast, wolf predation is the leading cause of death for moose calves during their first 30-50 days of life..,


Will Minnesota's moose ever thrive again? December 31, 2022 inforum

... First it was northwestern Minnesota's moose that disappeared, in the 1990s, from thousands to virtually none over just one decade. Then, northeastern moose numbers crashed by 70% from a modern high of 8,840 moose estimated in 2006 to just 2,700 by 2013..,


Minnesota Democrats hope to sharply limit the deer farm industry in push to fight CWD December 16, 2022 MinnPost

... Minnesota farms that raise elk and deer for meat or captive hunts could soon face sharp limits from DFL lawmakers concerned about a critical disease risk to wild herds. Chronic wasting disease ...


Deer harvest trailing last year by 10 percent December 9, 2022 Minnesota, YAHOO!News

... The northwest and northeast regions of the state saw the largest harvest declines, with the harvest totals at this point 16 percent below last year in the northwest and 18 percent below in the northeast. The Central area showed a two percent decline from last year at this point...


To combat CWD, late-season deer hunting announced for 9 areas of Minnesota December 2, 2022 Minnesota, Bring MeTheNews

... The Minnesota DNR has announced that late-season deer hunting will be allowed in nine permit areas across the state, in an effort to combat the deadly Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)...


Deer harvest numbers down 55 percent in northeastern Minnesota December 1, 2022 WTIP

... white-tail deer populations have declined in the northeast region of Minnesota in the past decade... The DNR states that severe winters, wolf predation, and limited winter habitat have contributed to declines in deer numbers in the Superior Uplands – Arrowhead region...


DNR says deer harvest numbers are down in Minnesota November 18, 2022 KIMT

... Deer harvest numbers are down 11 percent compared to last year and 17 percent compared to the five year average. Contributing factors to the decrease include the lower population of deer seen throughout the state...


DNR links poor deer harvest to wolves, weather November 18, 2022 Minnesota, The Ely Echo

... What is turning into an abysmal firearms deer season has gotten the attention of the Minnesota DNR. And while last year’s tough winter limited population growth, there’s a growing trend to look at the impact of wolves as well...


Locked Bucks Found Dead in Lake November 17, 2022 Minnesota, Grand View Outdoors

... The person who posted the pics says that neighbors saw these bucks fighting the night before on dry land. It’s clear the bucks must have moved their fight to the edge of the lake, or they stumbled into deep water as they fought, then drowned...


CWD suspected in deer harvested near Bemidji November 15, 2022 Minnesota, KSTP-TV

... The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is urging hunters to have their deer tested after announcing a white-tailed deer shot about 10 miles south of Bemidji is suspected of having chronic wasting disease (CWD)...


U of M researchers seeking to cut down state's number of car-deer crashes November 7, 2022 Minnesota, CBS Minnesota

... $200,000 study funded by the Minnesota Department of Transportation ... roads with higher speed limits have higher rates of reporting deer crashes based on several factors including proximity to law enforcement and how much damage is caused by the crash...


Minnesota deer season generates big bucks November 7, 2022 KSTP-TV

... Pre-pandemic numbers from the DNR showed retail sales connected to the deer hunt meant $260 million in retail sales and generated $33 million in sales taxes...


Northeastern Minnesota outlook for Saturday’s firearms deer opener November 4, 2022, WDIO

... “In northeastern Minnesota deer populations have struggled to recover from several severe winters and the winter of 2021 was indeed severe in many parts of northeastern and some parts of north central Minnesota. So, we have reduced harvest opportunities in some parts of this area ..."


Fewer hunters, CWD and warm temps impact upcoming deer opener November 2, 2022 Minnesota, KARE 11

... Deer hunting has a $500 million economic impact on the state and if license sales continue to fall, so too will funding for conservation efforts... The DNR says the number of deer hunters is declining — by as much as 3% yearly ...


Here's Why Minnesota Is No Longer Installing Deer Crossing Signs November 1, 2022 106.9 KROC

... The department of transportation says, "Research has shown that deer crossing warning signs do not reduce deer-vehicle crashes .... Signs that alert drivers to infrequent encounters or possible situations, such as deer crossing, children at play, or playground warning signs do not have a consistent impact on driver behavior." ...


Two Bucks Found Floating Dead In Minnesota Lake With Locked Antlers October 28, 2022 KROC-AM

... found her yard all torn up with scrapes and deer tracks, and kicked up deer which suggests two deer were fighting each other. It's rut season for deer, which means males will get aggressive with each other as they spar over dominance in mating season...



Reps. Hansen, Ecklund, and Becker-Finn Urge Action to Combat Chronic Wasting Disease October 26, 2022 Minnesota Legislature

... “The Legislature must take immediate action to prevent the spread of CWD which is devastating our deer population. The health of our natural environment hinges on our ability to manage this crisis,” ... The representatives are also proposing expanded deer monitoring for PFAS, and neonicotinoids in deer to track and understand additional factors which impact the health of the deer population...


What Minnesota deer hunters can expect this season October 18, 2022, Minnesota DNR News

... Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ wildlife managers report good opportunities to harvest deer in most areas ... Detailed information about each permit area and CWD area can be found on the DNR’s interactive deer map. Additional information about CWD areas, carcass movement restrictions and voluntary sampling can be found at the DNR’s CWD webpage ...


DNR aims to capture hunter observations for science October 8, 2022 Minnesota, MPR News

... The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources believes what hunters see as they wait can be valuable data to help manage the deer population... Last year just 49 hunters out of more than 400,000 who bought a hunting license volunteered to fill out observational surveys ...


Pesticide exposure tied to deer die-off in Minnesota October 7, 2022 Lewiston Tribune

... State biologists found neonicotinoids in nearly all — 94% — of deer spleens collected from road kill and sent in by hunters last fall. Alarmingly, roughly two-thirds of those deer had higher concentrations of the chemicals than a threshold found to potentially lower fawn survival and cause bone and genital deformities in a captive deer study...


Nearly all Minnesota deer exposed to pesticides linked to pollinator die-off September 10, 2022 StarTribune

... pesticides linked to bee, butterfly and pollinator deaths across the nation are being found in the organs of far more of Minnesota's wild deer, and in higher concentrations, than previously thought. State biologists found neonicotinoids in nearly all — 94% — of deer spleens collected from road kill ...


Minnesota DNR shares changes to upcoming deer hunting season September 9, 2022 WTIP

... Deer populations along the North Shore and the greater Superior Uplands Arrowhead region have steadily declined. And after a harsh winter, deer populations show no signs of improvement...


Apply for the Deer Advisory Committee through Sept. 19 September 8, 2022 Minnesota DNR News

... We’re recruiting new members to serve on the statewide Deer Advisory Committee, a public advisory group that meets to discuss deer management issues... More information about the Deer Advisory Committee, including how to apply for it, can be found on the DNR deer advisory committee webpage...


Trouble for Bambi: Neonic Levels in Wild Deer Spiking in Minnesota, Raising Concerns for Hunters and Conservationists September 7, 2022 Beyond Pesticides

... Neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides are causing widespread contamination within deer populations in Minnesota, with recent data showing significant increases over sampling that took place just two years earlier...


DNR announces changes to deer hunting in Grand Rapids August 23, 2022 Minnesota, CBS 3 Duluth

... a deer in the Grand Rapids area tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD. The DNR quickly killed off 54 deer in and around the town, submitting all of them for testing. One other deer tested positive for the disease...


Data show increasing insecticide levels in Minnesota deer August 23, 2022 MPR News

... Researchers found the insecticide in 61 percent of 799 deer spleens tested in 2019. But the chemical was found in 94 percent of 496 samples collected in 2021..,


DNR announces CWD sampling changes August 13, 2022 Minnesota, Pilot Independent

... Hunters will be able to submit samples through taxidermists who are partnering with the DNR or by dropping off deer heads at self-service sampling stations. Other options available include using mail-in kits (hunters remove the lymph nodes from deer themselves), dropping by one of the DNR-staffed sampling stations during the opening weekend of firearms season, or making appointments at area wildlife offices ...


New deer season regulations offer ample opportunities for northwest Minnesota August 5, 2022

Yahoo! Sports

... in the far northwest were ... mortality wasn't as much of a factor as maybe a lot of us thought going into deer season-setting ... "When we get into that farm country, the habitat just isn't there, and that's a big part of it," Klemek said. "The deer permit areas there are managed, typically, more restricted." ...


The hunt is on: Rochester's first deer archery hunt starts in September August 4, 2022 Minnesota, StarTribune

... Over 200 deer-related vehicle accidents were reported in Rochester in 2021 ... DNR officials expect to keep local deer population about the same over the next decade, as hunters largely thought there were too few deer and landowners thought there were too many. As their natural environment dwindles, deer have adapted to rural and urban areas...


Fewer Minnesota doe permits in some areas after deep-snow winter August 1, 2022 Duluth News Tribune

... Deer hunters across Minnesota will have about the same opportunities to bag a deer or two this fall compared to last, except in parts of northern Minnesota, where a deep-snow winter pushed the Department of Natural Resources to reduce the number of antlerless deer permits in an effort to rebuild the herd..,


Chronic Wasting Disease, DNR announces CWD sampling changes August 1, 2022 EIN Presswire

... the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is broadening the options this year for hunters to get their deer tested for CWD... Hunters will be able to submit samples through taxidermists who are partnering with the DNR or by dropping off deer heads at self-service sampling stations. Other options available include using mail-in kits ...


State of Wolves: 5 key takeaways July 9, 2022 Star Tribune

... Minnesota is the only place in the contiguous United States to never kill all its wolves... several hundred survived deep in the northern woods ... More than 2,700 wolves live in Minnesota ... Their effect on deer populations also has not changed since the late 1990s..,


However vague, there's movement in state's most recent wolf management plan July 2, 2022 Minnesota, StarTribune

... "Among the collared cow moose in our study group this spring, 100 percent of calves suffered mortality," said Seth Moore, director of biology and environment for the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. "About half were killed by wolves and about half by bears. Because of the tough winter, we also had some stillborn calves." ...


Crow Wing County abandons deer carcass incineration as effort to prevent CWD spread June 28, 2022 Minnesota, Brainerd Dispatch

... whether the incinerator is in use or not, the landfill would continue to accept deer carcasses to try to keep prions out of the environment. “It’s just those unknown, what-if concerns about, what if these prions end up going into our landfill leachate?” Simonson said, referencing the runoff created when rainwater filters through waste ...


Fawns collared, tracked for second year as part of long-term study June 13, 2022 Minnesota DNR News

... With the aid of a contracted drone pilot, the research team locates fawns, usually one to five days old, in their natural habitat. From there, a team of three to four people on the ground locates and captures the fawn to check length, weight and overall health while also slipping on a flexible GPS collar that expands as the young deer grows...


Fawn rescued from forest fire near Nevis Park June 7, 2022 Minnesota, Rapids Enterprise

... The fawn was in immediate danger. She already had some singe marks on the back of her neck ... they arranged for a volunteer from Northwoods Wildlife Rescue to meet her at their rehab facility...


New funding expands chronic wasting disease research June 2, 2022 Minnesota, MPR News

... "We successfully developed a prototype. We were the first team to test for CWD within 24 hours in the field," said Peter Larsen, co-director of the University of Minnesota Center for Prion Research and Outreach... The test still needs to be validated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a process that will take at least a year...


Archery hunt in Rochester parks proposed to control deer May 14, 2022 Post Bulletin

... 268 deer-related vehicle collisions last year... “I’ve heard many complaints about property damage ...


Legislation needed to stem the spread of chronic wasting disease May 8, 2022 Minnesota, InForum

... DFL Sen. Karla Bigham introduced an amendment that would have put a moratorium on new deer farms, while allowing for currently operating farms to be passed down to family, restricted the importation of deer from states or provinces with positive CWD cases, and included some new testing regulations for deer farms but did not restrict intra state transport... [didn't pass with these restrictions] ...


Deer shot in Grand Rapids was positive for chronic wasting disease May 4, 2022 Minnesota, Echo Press

... One of the 54 deer shot by sharpshooters in recent weeks did indeed test positive for chronic wasting disease ... The culling and testing effort came after a car-killed deer that was tested in March came back positive for CWD...


Winter conditions keep grip Up North, but whitetails show resilience April 21, 2022 Star Tribune

... weather-related fawn deaths have been reported sporadically across the northern tier ... under conditions that have hampered their mobility and feeding ... For moose in the region ... this spring's deep snow could bring a blessing by suppressing reproduction of ticks that feed on them ...


White-tailed buck, moose antlers shed over winter exposed for picking April 9, 2022 Minnesota, Duluth News Tribune

... Some people collect sheds to make money, and there are buyers paying big bucks for sheds used to make decorations, for dog chews and for medicinal purposes ... It's illegal to shed hunt in all national parks, Minnesota state parks and state Scientific and Natural Areas...


Minnesota Researchers Will Count Dead Deer to Prevent Future Vehicle Collisions April 7, 2022 Field & Stream

... Drivers officially report 2,000 deer-vehicle collisions to authorities in Minnesota each year. Yet, State Farm records show 42,874 claims in the state last year alone... By gathering better data, the study ultimately hopes to reduce the number of collisions ...


Prohibiting PFAS, regulating farmed white-tailed deer key points in omnibus environment bill April 5, 2022 Minnesota House of Representatives - Minnesota Legislature

... The farmed Cervidae, including white-tailed deer, provisions would include having owners immediately notify the DNR if a farmed cervid escapes and is not returned or captured within 24 hours, require perimeter fencing for farmed cervids, prohibit intentional movement of the animals unless certain criteria are met and require owners of farmed white-tailed deer to test their herd for chronic wasting disease...


Minnesota lawmakers would ban new captive deer farms to prevent spread of chronic wasting disease April 4, 2022 StarTribune

... Both Republicans and Democrats in the House have proposed moratoriums on new whitetail farms, which have been hotbeds for the always-fatal CWD ... There are about 150 deer and elk farms in Minnesota, down from 400 in 2005..,


Another tough winter for northern Minnesota deer March 20, 2022 Duluth News Tribune

... this is now the sixth winter out of the past 10 that has been unusually snowy in parts of northern Minnesota, a string not seen since the 1970s ... Repeatedly snowy winters have prevented Arrowhead region deer numbers from rebounding over the past decade ...


Minnesota lawmakers drop deer farmer provision from $10 million drought aid bill March 22, 2022 Duluth News Tribune

... $500,000 specifically for deer farmers affected by extreme drought conditions last year. The provision drew opposition from Democrats who control the Minnesota House of Representatives ...


Video Below: Presentation by Ryan Rothstein, Kanati Wildlife Consulting LLC. Part of the Minnesota Woodland Owner Workshop series,. Posted March 21, 2022

Wild deer with Chronic Wasting Disease discovered in Grand Rapids March 22, 2022 Minnesota, Bring Me The News

... The Minnesota DNR said the CWD case — the first detected in a wild deer in that specific permit area — was confirmed March 15, about a month after the animal's carcass was discovered in the backyard of a Grand Rapids home...


White-tailed deer farmers could get financial help after feeling impacts of movement bans March 16, 2022 Minnesota House of Representatives - Minnesota Legislature

... HF3903, sponsored by Rep. John Burkel (R-Badger), would appropriate $1 million to the Department of Agriculture to reimburse farmers for expenses and lost revenue due to the temporary movement bans. Payments of up to $10,000 would be on a first-come, first-served basis ...


CWD, County concerned about CWD March 14, 2022 Minnesota, Grand Rapids Herald-Review

... Commissioners voted to send a letter of support to state legislators ... We support the current legislative language proposed in HF 2814 and SF 3037 as well as legislation to prohibit new captive deer farms ...


CWD, Proposed moratorium on new deer farms moves on to environment committee March 7, 2022. Minnesota House of Representatives

... “Chronic wasting disease is a strong focus ... the DNR and the Board of Animal Health issued their joint report finding that there was about a 34% infraction rate on their inspected farms. These included inadequate fencing, inadequate gates, refusing inspection. We believe we’ve reached the point where the wild deer herd is under significant threat.” ...


Minnesota's winter's severity burdening deer Up North March 4, 2022 StarTribune

... From the southern boundary of Crow Wing County to the tip of the Northwest Angle, Minnesota's whitetail deer have been battling winter conditions considered severe or well on their way to becoming severe ... scattered reports of fawns dying from starvation ...


The Uncertain Future of the Minnesota Moose Population February 23, 2022 Field & Stream

... the state ’s moose population fell 66 percent between 2006 and 2013, from 9,000 to under 3,000...For the nine years since, the population has remained stable... Decades of milder winters ... the tick population goes up... moose with thousands of ticks on them ...


Deep snow, subzero nights work against northern Minnesota deer again February 19, 2022 TwinCities.com

... the region’s white-trailed deer are likely to feel the impacts of yet another harsh winter... “Deer appear to be struggling as we approach close to two feet of snow on the ground, and a lot of winter left,” Fondie wrote in his report this week. “Wolf activity is plentiful.” ...


Is Wyoming's present Minnesota's future? One deer herd more than 60% CWD infected February 17, 2022 Minnesota, StarTribune

... CWD outbreaks often occurring close to ''captive cervid'' operations, as deer and elk farms are known... As CWD spreads, it will turn hunters off to hunting while also reducing hunting opportunities...


Hines deer farmer fights Board of Animal Health after illegal dumping of CWD-infected deer carcasses February 9, 2022 Minnesota, The Bemidji Pioneer

... The owner of the Hines deer farm, whose herd was infected with chronic wasting disease in early 2021 ... is refusing to pay for a $194,000 exclusionary fence constructed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources ...


Deer continue to thrive in Mankato February 6, 2022 Minnesota, Yahoo News

... Hunters have turned 514 deer within Mankato's city limits into venison since a special archery hunt was instituted in 2003... An aerial survey of deer by the Department of Natural Resources two years ago counted 166 making their home in Mankato. That's substantially more than the 137 counted by the DNR in 2004 ...


Minnesota DNR calls for tougher deer farm rules to fight chronic wasting disease February 2, 2022 The Derrick

... The recommendations stem from inspections of 50 deer farms toward the end of last year.

According to the report, inspectors found 17 violations of rules designed to keep CWD from spreading inside farms and outward, to wild deer. Ten of the farms had inadequate fencing ...


Minnesota DNR calls for tougher deer farm regulations February 1, 2022 StarTribune

... The recommendations stem from inspections of 50 deer farms toward the end of last year. According to the report, inspectors found 17 violations of rules designed to keep CWD from spreading inside farms and outward, to wild deer. Ten of the farms had inadequate fencing ...


Alexandria seeks input on possible deer hunt in city limits February 1, 2022 Minnesota, Echo Press

... The Alexandria City Council looked into the idea of a hunt last year but ultimately decided not to pursue it until safety issues were addressed...




Minnesota data: Weather, habitat, and predators are cited as reasons for the declining deer population in 2022. An early 2020 state forecast put the deer population between 900,000 to 1 million deer, or about 950,000 deer. The 2022-23 forecast summarizes that " Overall weather conditions had no impact on the deer herd and fawn production was very good." DNR's 2022 Deer Population Trends. A hard winter for 2021-22 in the north with the population about the same in the rest of the state for 2022.


The mild winter of 2020-21 benefited deer populations, but to compensate for previous deep-snow winters fewer doe permits were issued in the north. DNR's 2021-22 forecast. DNR's 2021 Deer Population Trends. More licenses sold and mild weather contributed to the increase in the 2020 harvest numbers. DNR's 2020-21 forecast.


Population goals in 2020 were to increase deer populations in the north where harsh weather and deep snow has kept the population down, to stabilize populations in the northwest and west, and slightly decrease populations in the central portions. In 2020 Minnesota built its first deer crossing structure to reduce vehicle collisions. Research in 2020 concludes "herbivores on six continents can't can keep up with all the extra plant life dominating grasslands ... including Minnesota."

A rough 2019-20 winter and some harsh winters since 2013 reduced deer numbers.


DNR forecast for 2019-20. In 2019 462,095 deer hunting licenses sold compared to 521,951 in 2012. Based on harvest data, a population of about 935,000 deer in 2019 and 960,000 in 2018. The state expected the 2019 population to be down slightly from 2018. In 2019 the DNR cited commercial deer hunting as a possible threat to the herd. Harvest data indicates a modest downward trend from a state estimate of about 1 million deer in 2016 and 2017, but up from about 850,000 deer in 2015, 800,000 in 2014.


A rough winter in 2018-19 resulted in a drastic population decline in northern areas according to the DNR, but three mild winters, 2014-17, and fewer antlerless permits allowed for an upward upward trend. The 2017-18 winter was a mild to average winter with increased deer permits for 2018. Fawn survival was higher. Also mild in 2016-17. More hunting permits in 2016, although a conservative approach for the north and northeast to allow the herd to grow. A mild 2015-16 winter, the second in a row, increased deer populations.


About one million deer in 2013. About 900,000 to one million wild deer from 2013 - 2010, up slightly in 2012 from better weather and hunting restrictions in some parts of the state, but down in 2013 and 2014 from two severe winters, worst in the north. The winter of 2013-14 was the worst in 50 years. Another conservative hunt in 2015 with reduced tags to allow the population rebound to continue. In 70 of Minnesota’s 128 deer permit areas, hunters were chosen in a lottery to shoot an antlerless deer. License sales totaled 609,382 in 2015, up from 598,594 in 2014. In 2015, hunters spent more than $725 million on equipment, food, licenses and permits. Hunters were expressing dissatisfaction with the number of deer in 2015. Read the 2016 state audit of Minnesota Deer Management: Full Report or Summary. Summary of 2016 deer plan.


Deer Farms In 2017 there were 421 deer and elk farms in the state. In 2019 there were 339 licensed deer and elk farms in the state, 308 in 2020, 259 in 2021. In 2021, the law was changed allowing the DNR to inspect the 174 whitetail deer farms. About 150 deer and elk farms in 2022, down from 400 in 2005.


The MDNR reduced deer tags for 2014 to boost the herd and imposed bucks only hunting in the northeast. Deer density dropped to 5.6 deer per square mile around Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge in the northwest - target of 15 to 20 per square mile. After pressure from hunting groups, emergency deer feeding began in March of 2014 for the northern part of the state, the first time since 1989 based on a legislative bill. The 2013 deer harvest was the lowest in a decade. Anterless deer permits were reduced to grow the herd.


About 1 million deer in 2012 and 2011 after a few years of a downward trend. A population estimate of 1,200,000 deer in 2009. An estimate of 1.1 million in 2003.


Minnesota Deer Harvest, 1918 to 2016 from 2016 Deer Plan Information

History Clearing of forests by settlers in the mid-1800s improved deer habitat for deer in central Minnesota, but agricultural land conversion began to reduce habitat quality and with significant market and subsistence hunting, deer were rare in many parts of the state by the 1880s.

After over hunting during the 1960's, the deer season was closed in 1971 allowing the herd to recover. For much of the 1970 to 1990's, the DNF focused on increasing the deer population. The legislature approved rules for emergency winter deer feeding when about 30 percent of the herd died in the severe winter of 1995-96 and an additional 8 percent died in '96-97, 50 cents from each license for deer feeding.


The harvest peaked in 2003 at 290,000 during a time of liberal hunting regulations. Some believe too many deer were killed then, resulting in the decline of the past 10 years, bringing the population down to 1970 levels. The 2014 harvest fell below 150,000, the lowest number since 1997. Hunter success was 31.1% in 2013 with about an equal number of bucks and does taken. Hard winters have taken a toll on the upper Minnesota herd with four hard winters out of the seven prior to 2015. There was little fawn survival in 2014 which was the second most severe on record.


About 500,000 deer hunters. .A whitetail's home range is about one square mile. Adult males weight about 170 pounds, adult females about 145. The northern pine forests are poor deer habitat.


Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) First detected in 2002 at a deer farm in Aitkin County. The first case was a wild deer that tested positive was killed by an archer in 2010 south of Pine Island. Over three years 5,000 deer within a 330 square mile area were killed and tested - none positive. In November, 2016, CWD was discovered in wild deer near Preston/Lanesboro in the southeast. Also in 2016, a captive deer in Meeker County tested positive, a doe purchased from a Crow Wing County farm in 2014. Additional captive deer have since tested positive.


Testing in 2017 found six confirmed and one suspected case in the disease management zone, down from 11 in 2016, but no cases outside the established zone. More in 2018, 34 in the 2018-19 season, and 2019. In 2020, 22 positives but testing was reduced because of the Covid pandemic. More in deer farms and the wild in 2021, controversial bans on captive deer movement, and University of Minnesota researchers develop a field test for CWD. Online CIDRAP CWD Resource Center. Positives for 2022.


Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) was first identified n Minnesota in October 2018 when the Minnesota Animal Health Board confirmed six deer on a farm in Goodhue County. The first two cases in the wild herd were found in Stearns county in 2019 and a third in Houston County. Four reindeer were infected in a zoo in 2020. An outbreak in 2021 and an experimental vaccine tested in a zoo.


Insecticides and toxic chemicals: In 2021, insecticide was found in 94 percent of the deer in one test. Long-term monitoring reported in 2021 shows 7% of Minnesota venison laced with toxic lead from bullets. Testing for cancer causing chemicals in 2020.


Covid Some deer test positive for covid in 2022.


Moose population estimated between 3,000 and 4,000 in 2022, at 3,150 in 2020. Research in 2021 cites In 2020 research about how as wolf numbers go up and elk numbers go down and effect of brainworm resulting in a 50 percent decine from 2006. An estimate of 4,180 moose in early 2019 with brainworm identified as a major threat. An estimate of 3,030 in early 2018, statistically unchanged from the 3,710 estimated for early 2017 in the northeastern part of the state, statistically unchanged from the estimate of 4,020 in 2016. 2005-2016 population. Estimated at 3,450 in 2015. The moose population dropped from a peak of about 8,800 in 2006 to an estimated 4,230 to 2,760 between 2012 and 2013 -- 3,450 based on an aerial survey reported in early 2015. Biologists are studying the cause of the decline. The population in the northeastern corner of the state peaked at 8,840 in 2006. By then they had already largely disappeared from the northwestern corner of Minnesota.


Moose Population

2005 8,160

2006 8,840

2007 6,860

2008 7,890

2009 7,890

2010 5,700

2011 4,900

2012 4,230

2013 2,760

2014 4,350

2015 3,450

2016 4,020

2017 3,710

2018 3,030

2019 4,180

2020 3,150

2021 No survey

2022 4,700

Source: Minnesota DNR


Elk were abundant prior to extermination by European immigrants in the late 1800's. About 130 elk in 2016 in the northwest. In 2019 researchers find that the northeast could support at least 550 elk. Tribal support in 2020.


Caribou were abundant in the northern part of the state but were hunted to extinction by the 1930's and 40's. The few remaining on Lake Superior Islands were air lifted to a new island location in 2018.


Wolves An estimated 2,700 wolves in 2021. About the same for several years. In 2021 a live video camera was placed on a wolf. As of 2020, the state had been paying out about 135,000 per year for wolf kills over the previous decade. An estimated 2,696 in 2020 and 2,700 wolves in 2019. About 2,655 wolves in 456 packs in early 2018. An estimated 2,856 wolves in 2017. An estimated 2,278 wolves in 2016, 2,221 in 2015, 2,423 in 2014, 2,211 in 2013. The 2012-13 winter survey estimated a range of 1,652 to 2,641 wolves, compared to the 2007-08 estimate of 2,200 to 3,500. Record low of about 350 - 750 in the 1950's and 1960's. Peak of of about 3,020 in 2003-2004. Wolves were never wiped out from Minnesota, the only state of the lower 48.

Isle Royale wolf-moose study.


Cougar Some have been spotted.