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Why are there so many deer?

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A few of us were discussing the huge number of deer in the state. One of the guys in his 50's commented that when he was a kid, in the Alexandria area, seeing a deer was a special occasion. Apparently, back in the 1970's there wasn't even an open season on Deer. Now, there are so many deer that people call them "wood rats".

What accounts for the huge increase in the deer population? I cannot imagine that there has been an increase in forage or decrease in natural enemies. Is it mild winters?

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While I'm no wildlife biologist, I do have a background in it, and am very familiar with the problem in addressing it with various local, state, and federal agencies.

Mild winters play a role, predominantly in the northern regions of the state when successive mild winters occur.

However, from the evidence I've seen and sources I've studied, I think fragmentation of habitat is perhaps the single greatest reason. Deer are an "edge" species, and simply put, there is more "edge" out there than ever before. Along with that, our forests are sporadically younger (rather than clear-cut style younger, as in the turn of the century) than they ever have been before. Again, this applies primarily to the northern forest.

Farm country is a different beast altogether, and I don't feel comfortable in speaking to populations observed here.

I would be curious to hear lcornice's views on this, but I think that state/local pressures to curb excessive deer numbers are counter-acted by private individual's actions in trying to promote more deer.

There still is an imbalance in buck:doe ratios, and I think that tradition and social habits are more to blame for this than anything. The will to kill a buck is so strong in many, that it often includes passing on several does to do so.

Wisconsin has a larger problem than do we, in that their deer numbers are typically many-tens-more per square mile than there were presettlement.

That said, I still think we "select" for deer by land-use choices that overly-favor their success. Is this a problem? That's for each of us to come to their own conclusion about, but I strongly believe that it could be the strongest factor concerning the high number of deer in Minnesota.

I'll climb down from my soapbox now smile.gif


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HC Eye Hunter

I live out by Appleton and what we are seeing out in this part of the prairie is a noticable decline in our deer population.

First I was thinking it was just me but then after talking to several farmers and hunters the concensus is the deer numbers are at best spotty.

Now I am not saying that there are no deer out here but the numbers appear to be way down, at least in this part of western MN.

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