Photo by Rob Nopola
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has hired someone to to better work with deer hunters and landowners in southeastern Minnesota.
Since February, Clint Luedtke has met with farmers, recreational land owners and others to reduce deer-related crop damage and increase effective deer management strategies.
DNR officials describe southeast Minnesota as a “puzzle” when it comes to deer issues, since the region has many private farms, public forests, absentee landowners, crop depredation, and a growing interest in big buck hunting.
Some regional farmers say they lose thousands of dollars a year in crop damage because of deer.
DNR officials say hunting is the only tool for the agency to manage deer in some of these areas. But not all private landowners/farmers welcome hunters on their properties and DNR officials say many hunters sometimes focus only on catching big bucks.
Luedtke, a former wildlife biologist from Arizona, says many of the problems happen between farmers trying to raise crops near others trying to hunt larger bucks.
“We’ve got these pockets of deer that are persistently causing damage to crops,” Luedtke said. “It has become such a big issue, so we’re kind of under the hot seat to get something done.”
Luedtke’s region includes Fillmore, Goodhue, Houston, Olmsted, Wabasha and Winona counties.