Deer populations & goals

2022 goal setting

Input opportunities for 2022 goal setting in northeastern, north central and southeastern Minnesota closed Feb. 13. Below you'll find informational resources on goal setting as well as DNR reports, presentations and recommendations for each goal-setting block.

Goal setting background

The DNR sets deer population goals – how much of an increase or decrease is desired in a deer population in a particular deer permit area – as part of managing the state’s wild deer.

Deer population goals are updated in 15 regional goal-setting blocks comprised of multiple deer permit areas. The population goals established in each block provide direction for long-term management during the next 10 years, with a formal review every five years to assess if the goals are still headed in the right direction.

Goal-setting blocks and the DPAs that comprise them are established based on similar habitat, land uses, deer populations and deer hunter distribution. Discussing goals by blocks of DPAs informs management by grouping similar characteristics on which management decisions are based within specific areas.

These goals serve as reference points each year when DNR sets the deer hunting designation of each DPA. During that process, the DNR assesses whether the deer population in that DPA is above, below or at goal and sets bag limits and other regulations that will move the deer population toward that desired goal.

Map, indexed by colors, indicating the year deer permit area goals in each goal-setting block will be assessed

The color of each goal-setting block indicates the year in which deer population goals for each deer permit in that block will be assessed

Information about deer population goals established for other goal-setting blocks in previous years can be found on the history page.

Goal setting block information & resources

DPAs: 117, 118, 126, 130, 131, 133
Attitude survey  • View webinar
Exploded view of the Superior Uplands goal-setting block in the Arrowhead region of northeastern Minnesota

Exploded view of the Superior Uplands goal-setting block in the Arrowhead region of northeastern Minnesota. The block's DPAs are numbered on the map.

Block summary: Low deer and hunter densities characterize this block of DPAs. Severe winters, wolf predation and limited winter habitat have contributed to declines in deer numbers in this region. Most of this block is in primary moose range, where moose are the priority for big game management (deer are the primary host of a parasite that is a significant cause of mortality in moose). According to the hunter and landowner surveys, non-hunting landowners prefer to keep deer populations stable while deer hunters prefer increases in the population. Hunter survey results are consistent with voiced hunter concerns that deer populations are too low.

Slide table text left to view all DPA information

DPAProposed goalDeer permit area informationArea officeArea manager
117StabilizeStatusDetailsDownload mapTwo HarborsNancy Hansen
118StabilizeStatusDetailsDownload mapTowerPenny Backman
126StabilizeStatusDetailsDownload mapTwo HarborsNancy Hansen
130StabilizeStatusDetailsDownload mapTowerPenny Backman
131StabilizeStatusDetailsDownload mapTwo HarborsNancy Hansen
133Increase 25%StatusDetailsDownload mapTwo HarborsNancy Hansen
DPAs: 169, 184, 197, 210, 298
Attitude survey • View webinar
Exploded view of the North Central Plains Moraines goal-setting block in north central Minnesota

Exploded view of the North Central Plains Moraines goal-setting block in north central Minnesota. The block's DPAs are numbered on the map.

Block summary: Although deer populations are variable across this block, generally deer habitat and numbers increase as you move west from east. Harvest has been slightly declining since 2017, although harvest numbers for the past two years indicate a stable population. Permit areas 184, 197, 210 and portions of 169 were designated as a chronic wasting disease surveillance zone in 2020 due to the detection of a CWD-positive deer farm. To date, no wild deer have tested positive for CWD in these areas. Non-hunting landowners prefer to keep deer populations stable while deer hunters prefer slight increases in the population.

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DPAProposed goalDeer permit area informationArea officeArea manager
169Increase 50%StatusDetailsDownload mapGrand RapidsMark Spoden
184Increase 25%StatusDetailsDownload mapPark RapidsErik Thorson
197Increase 25%StatusDetailsDownload mapGrand RapidsMark Spoden
210StabilizeStatusDetailsDownload mapThief River FallsDoug Franke
298Increase 25%StatusDetailsDownload mapPark RapidsErik Thorson
DPAs: 241, 246, 251, 258, 259, 287
Attitude survey  • View webinar
Exploded view of the Pine Moraines goal-setting block in north central Minnesota

Exploded view of the Pine Moraines goal-setting block in north central Minnesota. The block's DPAs are numbered on the map.

Block summary: A good mix of forest cover and open habitat ideal for deer populations characterize this block of DPAs. Populations have been relatively stable in this block during the past five years. Deer damage to crops can sometimes be an issue here with 29% of agricultural landowners reporting deer damage in the landowner survey. Overall, hunters would prefer slight increases in deer numbers whereas non-hunting landowners prefer stable populations.

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DPAProposed goalDeer permit area informationArea officeArea manager
241StabilizeStatusDetailsDownload mapPark RapidsErik Thorson
246StabilizeStatusDetailsDownload mapBrainerdChristine Reisz
251StabilizeStatusDetailsDownload mapPark RapidsErik Thorson
258StabilizeStatusDetailsDownload mapPark RapidsErik Thorson
259Increase 25%StatusDetailsDownload mapPark RapidsErik Thorson
287StabilizeStatusDetailsDownload mapPark RapidsErik Thorson
DPAs: 341, 342, 343, 344, 643, 645, 646, 647, 648, 649, 655
Attitude survey • View webinar
Exploded view of the Blufflands Plateau goal-setting block in southeastern Minnesota

Exploded view of the Blufflands Plateau goal-setting block in southeastern Minnesota. The block's DPAs are numbered on the map.

Block summary: These DPAs are composed of some of the best deer habitat in the state and, likewise, deer populations here are very productive. Harvest numbers and success rates have been increasing in this block since 2014. Agricultural damage can be an issue in this goal block with 36% of agricultural landowners reporting deer damage in the landowner survey. Most deer hunters and landowners responding to the goal setting survey think the deer populations are about right. All of the permit areas in this block are part of a chronic wasting disease surveillance, control or management zone. Disease management is a priority in these areas and was taken into account when recommending draft goals.

Slide table text left to view all DPA information

DPAProposed goalDeer permit area informationArea officeArea manager
341StabilizeStatusDetailsDownload mapRochesterBrandon Schad
342StabilizeStatusDetailsDownload mapRochesterBrandon Schad
343StabilizeStatusDetailsDownload mapRochesterBrandon Schad
344StabilizeStatusDetailsDownload mapWhitewater WMAJamie Edwards
643StabilizeStatusDetailsDownload mapRochesterBrandon Schad
645StabilizeStatusDetailsDownload mapRochesterBrandon Schad
646Decrease 25%StatusDetailsDownload mapRochesterBrandon Schad
647Decrease 25%StatusDetailsDownload mapRochesterBrandon Schad
648Decrease 25%StatusDetailsDownload mapRochesterBrandon Schad
649StabilizeStatusDetailsDownload mapRochesterBrandon Schad
655StabilizeStatusDetailsDownload mapOwatonnaJeanine Vorland