Deer advisory committee

The DNR's deer advisory committee was created as part of the 2019-2028 Minnesota White-tailed Deer Management Plan to enhance two-way dialogue with stakeholders on specific deer management topics.

Updates on the committee and its actions, including upcoming meeting dates and topics discussed, will be available on this page.


The committee's members represent varied interests in deer hunting and conservation, farming, urban deer issues and forest management across the state. It will be evaluated annually and operate for the duration of the deer plan, through 2028, unless it is suspended for reasons defined in its charter.

  • View the charter for a complete summary of committee responsibilities and activities

The committee will:

  • Represent the breadth of deer management interests;
  • Learn about and contribute to understanding biological, social and economic aspects of deer management, including stakeholder group perspectives (excluding population goal setting);
  • Identify and inform DNR of significant deer management issues;
  • Facilitate dialogue between the public and DNR regarding issues;
  • Advise DNR on potential approaches to respond to issues; and
  • Advise on effective and publicly acceptable deer policies, research and monitoring priorities, programs and regulations.

Each committee member will serve a three-year term. The committee will meet quarterly each year, with the first meeting set to occur in summer 2019. 

Additional details about the committee are available in the Deer Advisory Committee Charter.


Organizational representatives have their organizations listed in parentheses.

  • Chance Adams (Backcountry Hunters & Anglers)
  • Nathan Adams
  • Macy Bernard
  • Jaden Bjorklund
  • Jake Blow
  • Ted Brenny (MN Farm Bureau)
  • Cary Coop
  • Leif DeVaney
  • Luke Freund
  • Jeffrey Friese
  • Brad Gausman (Minnesota Conservation Federation)
  • Katie Heil
  • Jake Kitzmann
  • Jared Mazurek (Minnesota Deer Hunters Association)
  • Carrie Meyer
  • Rod Pederson
  • Jeremy Schmit (Bluffland Whitetails Association)
  • Daniel Thompson
  • Dennis Thompson (Minnesota Forest Resources Partnership)
  • Adam Tomczik
  • Eric Torvinen
  • Ted Wawrzyniak (National Deer Association)
  • Julie Welter


March 28, 2024

Pat Rivers, Deputy Director, Fish and Wildlife, DNR provided a presentation on legislative updates, including legislation the DNR is involved in for the current legislative session. He gave a high-level overview of the legislative process and a summary of specific bills that have been brought forward this session that relate to the DNR’s work. He highlighted the Natural Resources Trust Fund bill, electronic license system bills, and other legislation related to deer. DAC members posed questions and discussed the legislative process, recent crossbow legislation, and the shotgun zone repeal legislation.

Todd Froberg, Big Game Program Coordinator, DNR provided a deer program update presentation and shared results from the end of season survey that was recently completed. The results indicate a desire for higher deer populations, a concern on impacts of wolf and deer interactions, increased communications related to wolves in northern Minnesota, and general neutrality related to crossbow use during archery season. DAC members posed questions and discussed the distribution of locations pertaining to deer population perceptions and survey models from other states.

Paul Burr, Big Game Program Specialist, DNR provided a presentation on the Deer Management Plan and associated performance metrics. He discussed the eight management goal areas and associated metrics and targets to measure success. The goal areas include communication and engagement, stakeholder satisfaction, population management, healthy deer, healthy habitat, impact on resources, and deer management funding. Paul then reviewed the associated performance metrics with the midpoint review process.

January 17, 2024 Ad hoc meeting

Barb Keller, Big Game Program Leader, DNR went over proposed legislative initiatives related to deer carcass importation and elk management. For deer carcass importation, Barb discussed the current importation ban preventing hunters from bringing cervid heads into the state and to taxidermists and potential bill language to allow this practice to change with further regulations. For elk management, Barb discussed the current restriction on increasing elk populations in northwest Minnesota due to requirements around the need for a reduction in the number of crop and fence damages. Potential bill language would decouple the agricultural damage restrictions and elk population management.

Todd Froberg, Big Game Program Coordinator, DNR went over proposed legislative initiatives related to deer damage and landowner permit requirements. He discussed potential ideas to improve this issue, including further clarification for acceptable utilization of taken animals, changing requirements for out of season shooting permits, additional inputs and outlets for donated venison, and low-cost damage permit rules.

December 12, 2023

Dan Stark, Wolf Management Specialist, DNR provided a presentation on wolf and deer dynamics as it pertains to deer management. He provided an overview of the framework the DNR uses to measure wolf populations and range and DNR wolf management across the state. He discussed the predator/prey dynamics of wolves and deer and highlighted DNR research on the ecological relationship and additional factors that influence deer populations. Dan also provided an overview of the Endangered Species Act as it pertains to wolves and highlighted previous efforts to de-list wolves and related lawsuits. DAC members posed questions and discussed de-listing efforts, wolf population estimates, and hunter concerns with wolf predation.

Todd Froberg, Big Game Program Coordinator, DNR provided a deer program update and shared data from the 2023 deer season. Statewide harvest was down 8% from 2022, archery harvest was similar to 2022, muzzleloader harvest was down 26% from 2022, and 12,000 chronic wasting disease (CWD) samples were collected with 34 confirmed positives via hunter harvested deer.

DAC members engaged in breakout group discussions about wolves and deer, buckthorn removal, and CWD and deer removal permits and special hunts.

September 21, 2023

Mike Oehler, Farmed Deer and Captive Species Coordinator, DNR provided a presentation on Minnesota deer farms, highlighting the history and current status, recent legislative changes, and updates to cervid farm management and regulations across multiple state agencies. DAC members posed questions and discussed chronic wasting disease (CWD) presence and deer farm regulations.

Barb Keller, Big Game Program Leader, DNR provided a deer program update and discussed early crossbow season results and license sales information. Opening weekend data indicated 42% of total harvested deer were taken with the use of a crossbow. The overall harvest for opening weekend was 43% higher than in 2022. Preliminary license sales showed that archery sales were up 7% compared to the same timeframe last year.

Todd Froberg, Big Game Program Coordinator, DNR provided an update on ongoing work with the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association related to deer damage and depredation, as well as management tools and potential legislative action.

Lastly, DAC members engaged in breakout discussions about weapon policy changes, deer populations, harvest data in the new electronic licensing system, and CWD on deer farms.

July 18, 2023 Ad hoc meeting

Todd Froberg, Big Game Program Coordinator, DNR went over legislative items that related to deer or deer hunting. Those items included fiscal updates related to CWD, Farmed Deer, Elk Restoration and Neonicotinoid research. Further, some legislative items or statute changes were also discussed, including crossbows, portable stands, blaze orange on ground blinds, youth licensing, and non-lethal hazing of deer and elk. Lastly, Todd went over the upcoming work planning for DAC meetings based off previous DAC member survey responses.

June 27, 2023

Erik Hildebrand, Wildlife Health Supervisor, DNR provided a brief presentation on the history of chronic wasting disease (CWD), upcoming planned CWD surveillance, present CWD positive detections, and the potential future of CWD and CWD management in Minnesota. DAC members posed questions and discussed CWD rules and regulations as well as provided input via a poll on how clear CWD regulations in Minnesota were. 53% of DAC members believed CWD regulations overall were clear and discussed regulation improvements and other aspects of CWD management.

Barb Keller, Big Game Program Leader, DNR provided an overview of regulation changes for the 2023 deer season, including proposed bag limits and CWD regulations. Further, DAC members were asked about their support for the use of Lottery 25 bag limit designations for antlerless lottery permit areas and the majority (51%) were supportive. Further, DAC members had a lot of questions on CWD management and the new crossbow legislation.

April 19, 2023 Ad hoc meeting

DAC members heard an overview from Big Game Program Leader Barb Keller about feeding and attractant bans in Minnesota and how they relate to the DNR CWD Response Plan. Barb provided details on the current plan as well as the proposed plan and framework for implementing Feeding and Attractant bans into the future. Members were given the opportunity to provide input on the proposed plan and to identify any gaps in communications and their understanding for the new proposed rule.

March 23, 2023

Leslie McInenly, Population and Regulations Manager, DNR gave an introduction to the new cohort of deer advisory committee (DAC) members, went over the DAC charter, and discussed how important DAC is and its role in deer management in Minnesota. Members and staff introduced themselves to each other and provided background and goals they hoped to accomplish while being part of the DAC.

Adam Kokotovich, Policy and Planning Consultant, DNR provided background information on the hierarchical system of state government, where DNR fits in the system, how the DAC was initiated and the purpose of DAC. Further, Adam laid out the processes, goals and priorities of the committee and expectations.

Barb Keller, Big Game Program Leader, DNR gave an overview of where the Big Game Program fits within the Division of the DNR and the Section of Fish and Wildlife. Barb outlined the process of setting annual season bag limits for deer permit areas (DPA) and how the rule making process does or does not interact with statutory processes in the legislature.

August 24, 2022

James Burnham, R3 Coordinator, DNR gave an overview of what R3 is, why we need it and how DNR is taking measures to accomplish R3. James gave a brief overview of the DNR Adult Learn to Hunt program and what participants can expect when going through the program and the intended outcomes.

Ben Welinski and Nick Welinski from USDA APHIS Wildlife Services gave an overview on urban deer management. They discussed culling and trapping programs, safe and effective shooting techniques, typical set ups to accomplish urban deer management, and abilities to reduce deer in localized areas.

Barb Keller, Big Game Program Leader, DNR went over DAC accomplishments from previous years, a recap of a recent wildlife conference (Midwest and Southeast Deer Study Group), discussed the CWD public meetings and questions and comments received related to those meetings. One meeting was held in Crookston and had about 20 attendees and the other was held in Grand Rapids with about 80 attendees.

DAC members filled out an end of the year survey, discussed the results of the survey and ways to improve DAC into the future.

June 6, 2022

Barb Keller, Big Game Program Leader, DNR gave a brief overview of proposed CWD surveillance for the 2022 hunting season including where surveillance, control and management zones will be around the state. Additionally, proposed bag limits and regulations in CWD areas were presented. The committee discussed bag limits in the Moose Range, changes to the early antlerless season licensing requirements and permits, and also the changes and proposed changes to the CWD late hunt.

April 7, 2022

Barb Keller, Big Game Program Leader, DNR gave updates on current events related to deer. The update included details on winter severity, which is taking a toll on Northern Minnesota deer, particularly areas along the North Shore. It was noted that this winter, although moderate to severe in some areas, has not been as severe as the winter of 2013-2014. Deer damage on stored forage has been an issue this winter in Northwestern Minnesota. Also noted was why DNR has not utilized emergency feeding - mainly due to disease concerns and the minimal positive effects it has on the overall population. Further, proposed regulation changes, potential legislative actions, and current deer related research was outlined.

Todd Froberg, Big Game Program Coordinator, DNR gave details on agency related CWD management efforts taking place over the winter and provided an update on the newly detected Grand Rapids CWD positive doe and follow up actions. Additionally, discussion surrounded possible changes to the CWD response plan and how the DNR can implement CWD monitoring and management efforts with the expanded footprint of CWD in Minnesota. DAC members had the opportunity to provide input on improvements to self-service CWD sampling stations, staffed CWD sampling efforts, and potential mail-in self-sampling kits. DAC members, in general, thought that the maximum distance someone would travel to a testing station would be ~40 miles and they moderately agreed that mail-in self-sampling kits would be used.

January 19, 2022

Barb Keller, Big Game Program Leader, DNR gave an overview of the deer harvest from all seasons compared to the 2020 season, and the 5-year and 10-year means. Todd Froberg, Big Game Program Coordinator, DNR gave an overview of upcoming planned winter CWD management activities.

Barb led a discussion regarding deer hunting seasons, starting chronologically from archery to muzzleloader, how those seasons are structured, how they relate to other states, and the most common questions or suggestions for season changes or additions. Further, additional discussion surrounding changes to season structures and licenses were proposed to the DAC for their comments.

Adam Landon, Human Dimensions Research Scientist, DNR previewed the hunter satisfaction survey that is being developed. Adam also went into more details regarding questions related specifically to concerns or comments most raised by hunters including; delaying the firearms opener, options for taking additional bucks, and attitudes towards a statewide ban on feeding and attractants.

December 15, 2021

Barb Keller, Big Game Program Leader, DNR gave an update on deer harvest. Harvest from after firearms season was down 7% but comparable to the 5 and 10-year mean. Archery harvest was down 20% compared to 2020, youth harvest had a very modest gain from last year, and muzzleloader harvest was down 2%.

Todd Froberg, Acting Big Game Program Coordinator, DNR gave an overview of CWD surveillance and outlined planned upcoming winter activities related to CWD management including late hunts, landowner shooting permits, and agency culling.

Barb went over the deer goal setting process that will take place in 4 areas of the state this year, including the moose range and several CWD area DPAs. Those 4 areas include the Superior Uplands Arrowhead goal block, North Central Plains Moraines goal block, Pine Moraines goal block, and Blufflands Plateau goal block.

October 13, 2021

Kelly Straka, Wildlife Section leader, DNR was introduced and she gave an overview of her career and goals for the MN DNR and answered questions from the DAC.

Barb Keller, Big Game Program Leader, DNR provided a presentation on moose and deer trade-offs that outlined the historical moose distribution, current population status of moose in northeast Minnesota, and possible contributing factors to the decline of moose in Minnesota.

Barb continued with a deer program update that included the latest on known and suspected epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) around the state. The harvest around the state has seen a 30% decrease to-date but is similar to the 5 and 10-year trends. There is currently 1 confirmed case of CWD in DPA 645 and 2 suspected cases in DPA 646 awaiting IHC confirmation. August deer open houses had very low attendance and DAC is suggesting more social media efforts for deer open houses and DAC did not oppose not having an in person option for deer open houses.

Todd Froberg, Acting Big Game Program Coordinator, DNR gave an overview of DNR’s approach to the newly formed concurrent whitetail deer management team.

August 18, 2021

Eric Nelson, Wildlife Damage Program Supervisor, DNR provided an overview of the deer depredation program, particularly mitigation and removal efforts. Additionally, he discussed changes in the Agricultural industry and land use practices - including more recreational properties. An overview of the common types of producers and participators in the program was given, including fruit and vegetable growers, row crop farmers, dairy and cattle farmers, forest resources, and haying operations. The current year drought conditions are having an effect on wildlife and may increase depredation this year.

Barb Keller, Big Game Program Leader, DNR gave an update on deer related topics including a legislative recap - some items of interest not included in the omnibus bill were the blaze orange requirement on ground blinds and no change to the shotgun/rifle boundary. Items that were included in the omnibus bill included a wildlife decoy loophole closure, the allowance of crossbows during the youth and early antlerless seasons with a firearms permit, and concurrent authority of whitetail deer farm management for the Board of Animal Health and DNR. Also discussed were updates on the expansion of the feeding ban, changes to the upcoming deer open houses, and various other topics surrounding the CWD detection in a Beltrami County deer farm.

Liz Scherber, Policy and Planning, DNR reviewed the past year of the Deer Advisory Committee (DAC), including results of a survey that members took. DAC members’ preferences included in-person meetings, more regulation, policy changes and research updates and less of guest speakers and CWD updates.

June 2, 2021

Pat Rivers, Deputy Director gave a short legislative update. No budget passed in the regular session, but there’s hope a budget will be passed in the special session.

Barb Keller, Big Game Program Leader, DNR gave an update on planned CWD regulations for the 2021 upcoming season. Those updates included a mixture of staffed and self-service sampling stations to help with Covid-19 related concerns and an addition of the Beltrami County area due to a CWD positive cervid farm. The reduction of the unlimited antlerless to 5-deer limit and noting that the late season hunts will be listed in the regulations. Barb also updated the DAC members on the bag limit naming conventions that were adjusted for simplification. The DAC Members agreed the language was clearer. There was a discussion surrounding deer populations in the middle parts of the state that has allowed for liberalized harvest regulations. Clarification of the lottery vs. either sex tags and what prompts these designations. Boundary changes are now updated every 5-years to reduce confusion but offer opportunity to adjust DPAs, and 14 DPAs were impacted this year.

April 28, 2021

Pat Rivers, Deputy Director updated the committee on the legislative session. He indicated both house and senate bills made it into the conference committee but had differences in the bills. Deer related topics included leaving deer stands on WMAS overnight in Northwest MN, blaze orange identification on ground blinds, and closing a loophole allowing deer carcasses that are not hunter harvested to be transported throughout the state. The DNR presented a need for CWD related funding at the legislature. The removal of the shotgun/rifle boundary was not included in either bill.

Dustin Bronson, Research Scientist, from the USFS Northern Research Station presented on forest regeneration research from Wisconsin. His research assessed 16,000 sites using a variety of measures related to forest regeneration and deer browse. His research concluded that deer browse does not have a large impact on forest regeneration, and it may be misleading to connect the two. Deer browse is not predicative of forest health or regeneration but could be used as a secondary or tertiary assessment tool of deer populations.

Michelle Carstensen, Wildlife Health Group Leader, DNR gave a presentation on research about presence of neonicotinoids in deer in Minnesota. More research on this issue is planned into the future. Michelle also gave an update on CWD surveillance and results from 2020 management efforts and explained the intent of going back to mandatory sampling for opening weekends in 2021. DNR is also collaborating with the U of M to help with faster CWD testing technologies and diagnostics.

Barb Keller, Big Game Program Leader, DNR discussed a feeding ban update to include new counties due to a captive farm CWD detection. DAC members were supportive of a statewide feeding ban since the current ban occupies most of the state. DNR is considering moving to a 5-deer bag limit in 600-series permit areas instead of the unlimited antlerless bag limit currently in place. This was also supported by DAC members.

January 14, 2021

Barb Keller, Big Game Program Leader, DNR gave an overview of the 2020 deer season harvest results, indicating increases in harvest for the early antlerless season, youth deer season, archery, firearms, and muzzleloader season. Pat Rivers, Deputy Director provided an overview of how policy changes occur for MN DNR within the MN legislature, including a timeline and how they are signed into law. Pat also provided a few topics the legislature is reviewing for the 2021 session. DAC discussed rule making process working with the Board of Animal Health and applauded Michelle Carstensen for her role related to CWD. Liz provided an overview of goal setting webpage and discussed changes to the process, DAC was supportive of the online approach and sharing through social media. Barb shared a CWD update presentation to members and will find a speaker for April about forest/deer browse impacts.

October 28, 2020

The committee welcomed a new member, Cinnsye Ly, following the resignation of Ku Thao. Barb Keller provided an update on the deer program including slight increases in harvest numbers in archery and early antlerless season. License sales are expected to also increase (up 16% to date). Barb shared the DNR is doing voluntary sampling for chronic wasting disease and experiencing low compliance. The DNR is sampling the livers and muscle tissue of deer who may have been exposed to PFAS chemicals in Duluth and areas of the east metro after other agencies found the same chemicals in deer in Michigan and Wisconsin. The DNR is proposing changes to a few policies including a possible statewide deer feeding ban, a moratorium on deer rehabilitation, and data-based changes to simplify the winter severity index. DAC members provided input in support of proposed changes with some notable concerns, including compliance with statewide feeding bans, impacts on other industries and public response. DAC members were supportive of the new online approach for deer population goal setting to replace public workshops.

August 19, 2020

Mike Larson, wildlife section manager, welcomed and thanked members for their involvement in DAC the last year. In a presentation, Eric Michel, ungulate research scientist, reviewed the elements of the Minnesota Deer Population Model, which the state uses to track deer population trends. Barb Keller, big game program leader, provided an update on the deer program, including voluntary sampling, changes to meat processor licensing requirements and potential backlogs that might affect hunters in the upcoming season. Members reviewed accomplishments for the last year and discussed future work plan topics.

June 24, 2020

Lindsey Shartell, forest habitat assessment biologist presented on forest habitat metrics and deer winter habitat. Matt Russell from the University of Minnesota Extension presented on the citizen-based forest monitoring project, Assessing Vegetation Impacts from Deer (AVID). Current results suggest that AVID trees with browse impacts grow much more slowly, and there could be an opportunity to pair that information with the deer populations/deer density and severe winters to better understand those impacts.

Barb Keller, big game program leader, shared an update on the Board of Animal Health’s investigation into captive deer farms where chronic wasting disease was detected, the expanded CWD response plan and the shift to voluntary sampling for the 2020 season. Members reviewed a variety of potential policy changes being considered by DNR Fish and Wildlife leadership.

February 18, 2020

DAC members discussed preferences for meeting days, times, and locations. Barb Keller, big game program leader, presented harvest and license sales data from the 2019 season. Members reviewed an update that the DNR shared at the legislature on chronic wasting disease and the “Adopt a Dumpster” program. The presentation highlighted elements of the DNR’s approach to surveillance, expanded deer feeding ban, and partnerships with landowners for targeted culling. DNR staff began a conversation with DAC members on fawn rehabilitation and disease management concerns. DAC members shared that disease spread, non-complaint rehabbing, and public perception are key factors to consider in any fawn rehabilitation decisions. Finally, DAC members provided input on the altered Deer Population Goal Setting workshop approach and did a trial run of the facilitated activity.

October 29, 2019

The DNR provided a deer season update, highlighting minimal impacts of the statewide youth season on harvest numbers and current planning for late season hunts to manage chronic wasting disease. Adam Landon, human dimensions scientist, gave a presentation about the use of surveys in human dimensions research, providing specific examples of how surveys are conducted to best represent public opinion and how results are used to make management and regulatory decisions. The DNR facilitated a conversation on the redesigned Deer Population Goal Setting approach and the challenges with public engagement, especially low attendance at Deer Open Houses. DAC continued a conversation from the previous meeting on public engagement, suggesting that moderated social media could help gather public input, as well as collecting valid email addresses to use in other types of outreach.

August 26, 2019

Fish and Wildlife Division Director Dave Olfelt and Commissioner Sarah Strommen welcomed the inaugural DAC members in a video message. DNR staff discussed logistics and attendance expectations, reviewed a draft work plan and finalized the committee charter with members. Erik Hildebrand, wildlife health specialist in the DNR’s Wildlife Health Program, presented an update on chronic wasting disease in the state, and reviewed current management and regulations working to limit the spread of the disease in the state. The meeting ended with gathering member input on ways to improve public engagement strategies.

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