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.


January 19, 2022

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

Barb led a discussion regarding season structures, 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 previewed the hunter satisfaction survey that is being developed. Further, Adam 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 gave an update on 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 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 was introduced, 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 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 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 gave an overview of DNR’s approach to the newly formed concurrent WTD management team.

August 18, 2021

Eric Nelson, Wildlife Damage Program Supervisor provided an overview of the deer depredation program, particularly mitigation and removal efforts. Additionally, he discussed how the changing of 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 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 were a wildlife decoy loophole closure, the allowance of crossbows during the youth and early antlerless seasons with a firearms permit, and concurrent authority of WTD farm management for the Board of Animal Health and DNR. 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 reviewed the past year of the Deer Advisory Committee, 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.

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 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 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 discussed a feeding ban update to include new counties due to a captive farm 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 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 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.


For more information about the deer advisory committee, please contact Barbara Keller, big game program leader, 651-259-5198.