Should hunting be allowed in Minnesota’s Scientific and Natural Areas?

The Department of Natural Resources is in the process of opening some of the state’s 160 designated Scientific and Natural Areas to hunting and trapping. The areas currently don’t allow pets, camping or swimming.

The Star Tribune’s Tony Kennedy interviewed former DNR managers Bob Djupstrom and Ellen Fuge about the land use change.

“These are jewels of the natural world,’’ Djupstrom said. “They should be left alone.’’

Despite growing opposition, the Department of Natural Resources plans to open more of the sites to hunting and trapping. Townsend Woods is one of 10 under review for such a change, while three other SNAs, all south of the Twin Cities, were quietly approved as hunting grounds starting in 2012.

“It’s so ridiculous to mess with these sites,’’ Fuge said. “The whole point is to protect their natural processes.”

Fuge and Djupstrom are retired Department of Natural Resources managers who fostered the SNA network during long careers. Now they are fighting from outside the agency to block what they consider an attack on the program’s longtime mission — protecting the biological integrity of some of Minnesota’s ecological treasures.

Today’s Question: Should hunting be allowed in Minnesota’s Scientific and Natural Areas?

  • Jamie

    If they plan to double the acreage of SNAs to 325,000 acres and the current director of the SNAs says, “I don’t think the resources have been put at risk with additional uses”, I’ll take her word for it. Some of the sites won’t be available for additional use, but you can’t just keep acquiring state land and not let people use it.

    Also, for any of you archers who haven’t tried the arrow rest pictured, it’s a whisker biscuit and they’re awesome – no room for mechanical failure of a fall-away rest.

  • Gary F

    Would have been nice to know what the details of this new policy does. The writer of the story failed to go into any detail about motor boat usage, ATV vehicle use, or firearms hunting seasons. Limited vehicle access/walk in access for bow hunting, trapping, and fishing I think is a fair compromise.

  • Marge Peterson

    No. Hunting or trapping should NOT be allowed in scientific and natural areas. It would be too costly to provide oversight and law enforcement. We can’t legislate morality and unfortunately the wilderness will not be protected if placed on the ‘honor system.’
    On my own private property there has been years of illegal trapping and hunting. Before law enforcement has time to arrive the culprit(s) and evidence are gone.

    • Jamie

      How does not allowing legal hunting prevent poaching, which is already illegal? These people trespassing on your private land may already be trespassing on the SNA land, no?

      • Marge Peterson

        Exactly, so by allowing legal hunting there would need to be extensive oversight in order to protect endangered and protected species. Rules would need to be made and enforced for all activity including ATV’s in order to protect our ecosystem.

        Last year I heard and saw what I believe to have been endangered/protected, huge, rare ancient birds. The stream where these birds were netted and slaughtered, originates from a lake that is home to a unique array of species and habitats not found in other parts of the United States.

        My private, posted property is under 20 acres yet I have been unable to curb the illegal hunting and trapping for over 30 years. Natural habitats were destroyed by the use of their ATV’s and snowmobiles. I do my best to protect all species on this small parcel but due to the location and stream many animals find refuge there. Each year more birds and animals seem to disappear.


  • John Pastor

    This new policy of the DNR to allow hunting in Scientific and Natural Areas is so misguided. I and my students have done research in some SNAs. The purpose of these areas is to protect unique plant and animal populations, communities, and ecosystems for research. Almost all of them are quite small. The rules for working in them are quite restrictive – we can’t even collect samples of most things without special permission. We can’t camp there overnight as we often do on other research sites.

    How does the DNR justify the “sampling” of game animals by hunters in SNAs when scientists cannot even take a soil sample? Wouldn’t the hunting of game affect the populations a researcher might someday wish to study? Whether any research has been done in an SNA previously is not important. As the climate begins to change, we need these pristine areas to document whether and how populations are responding to it. What we learn from SNAs will help us manage the land outside the SNA.

    I have long been a supporter of the DNR, but I am very disappointed in this decision. I suspect that there has been strong political pressure behind the scenes on the DNR. Perhaps a MPR reporter might wish to look into this.

    John Pastor
    Dept. of Biology
    University of Minnesota Duluth

    • JQP

      I get the idea of the SNA’s having restrictions … but … I guess the animals don’t know, specifically, the difference between being in or out of one.

      Wouldn’t higher hunting quotas around but not in the SNA’s force more animals into the SNA and thus also disturb the ecological balance?

      • CG

        Yes, that’s why this is obvious misuse of authority and the DNR should have to live in said safe areas. Total Bullshit and anyone that doesn’t see this as such is lying to themselves or 5 years old.

  • Joe

    Absolutely, science without hunting is like social studies without genocide

  • Charles D.

    Deer and turkeys have become a destructive invasive species, ruining the forest for some desirable native species and opening it up for some bad ones, such as wild junipers.

  • PaulJ

    Until I hear the DNR’s side of the story, it sounds like taking candy from a baby.

  • Jim G

    No. There is no clamor to open hunting in these scientific study areas. Anyway, hunting is a dwindling activity in Minnesota, so there is no real need to open these areas. There are already plenty of public areas open to public hunting. These special areas set aside for scientific study, prohibit the predatory nature of humans. As a hunter of deer and small game throughout my life, I have come to realize that killing is no longer my primary reason for hunting, if it ever was. I find that it’s pleasurable to find a comfortable stump, and disappear into the wood; listening, and watching. There is a time a place for everything under the sun. Let’s provides places to study these unique environments where life happens without the intrusion of man.

  • Gordon near Two Harbors

    Yes, but on a case-by-case basis. For instance, deer were historically absent, or nearly so, from northeastern Minnesota. This was the domain of moose and woodland caribou prior to about 1910. After landscape-scale logging of pine and cedar occurred between about 1895 and 1920 deer surged northward to take advantage of the second growth deciduous forest that provided an excellent food base.

    Many scientific and natural areas are nearly pristine relics of the pre-pine logging days, and the plant communities in those places cannot survive the browsing of deer. For example, white cedar and white pine seedlings, as well as Canada yew and a host of other species, tend to be heavily browsed by deer, so there is very little natural reproduction across the landscape, except on extremely steep, rugged terrain, and in those few areas where deer densities are low.

    Hunting, especially for deer, is vital if we are to maintain/restore natural environments in many of the state’s Scientific and Natural Areas, as well state parks. There is less of a case to be made for trapping in these areas, but if there is a valid, scientifically-based reason for it, it should also be allowed.

  • Jeff

    Sure, pheasants are an invasive species.

    • Ralphy

      So are humans.

      • Jeff

        Thank you for articulating the entire environmental movement in a single concise point.

        • Pearly


      • Joe

        Only if they’re colonialists

  • Dick from Gaylord

    Humans should be a part of the natural landscape too. There are SNAs closer to the cities than WMAs. This could open more local hunting opportunities to underserved groups such as minorities and poor people who have to use mass transit as well as the retarded.

  • Elle

    No, hunting should not be allowed in these areas. But the DNR will allow it anyway. More hunting license dollars comin’ in. That’s all that matters.