DNR invites deer hunters to share their wildlife observations

September 13, 2021

Participation helps broaden understanding of deer and a variety of Minnesota animals 

Minnesota deer hunters are encouraged to report wildlife they see during their upcoming hunts using an online questionnaire from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“We’re asking hunters to share their observations of wildlife to help broaden our knowledge about deer and other wildlife species,” said Eric Michel, DNR ungulate research scientist. “This is the questionnaire’s second year in use, and we’re hoping to build on the helpful results from last year.”

The DNR uses the results from this crowdsourced data collection effort to compare what hunters see to population estimates that are a baseline for managing wildlife.

Using a mobile device or desktop computer, hunters can enter information on the DNR website about wildlife they see during each day of hunting including deer, turkeys, bears, fishers and other species. Hunters also will be able to report specific information about any deer they harvest, including antler size. Hunters are encouraged to fill out a report after each hunt even if they don’t see any deer that day.

The questionnaire will be available when archery deer season begins Saturday, Sept. 18, and remain open through the end of the year.

The DNR developed the bow hunter survey following a 2016 report from the Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor requesting more checks of the model used to estimate deer populations for each deer permit area. The observation surveys are a way to compare hunter-provided data with DNR population estimates.

“We’re confident in the model we use to estimate trends in deer populations. By participating in this questionnaire, hunters provide another way to check our estimates of deer populations, in addition to observations from DNR wildlife managers,” Michel said.

The DNR has deer population goals for areas throughout the state and the public has regular opportunities to provide input. Each year, wildlife managers use deer population estimates to figure out what level of deer harvest will move a local deer population closer to goal. The DNR then sets hunting regulations using past hunter participation and success rates, with the aim of harvest at a level that moves the population toward goal.

The DNR will report results from hunters’ observations in an annual research summary online. Last year’s results and previous bow hunter survey results are available on the DNR website.