DNR creates job for deer management

Published 11:52 am Monday, March 26, 2012

Not everyone is on the same page when it comes to regulating deer.

For that reason, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources created a new position to better manage deer and deer hunter-landowner relations in southeastern Minnesota.

The DNR hired Clint Luedtke, a former wildlife biologist from Arizona, to work with farmers, recreational land owners and others to reduce deer-related crop damage and increase effective deer management strategies.

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“Southeast Minnesota is a puzzle we want to solve,” said Dennis Simon, DNR wildlife chief. “So, we have re-prioritized our staffing pattern to create a first-ever position that aims to do just that.”

Simon said a number of social and landscape issues — private farms, public forests, absentee landownership, crop depredation, a growing interest in big-buck hunting and citizen differences on deer population goals — has created a growing conundrum.

“We don’t have one universal problem in southeast Minnesota,” Simon said. “Instead, there are a lot of isolated problems.”

The problems occur when farmers are raising crops and nearby recreational landowners are trying to raise herds of larger bucks by limiting the deer harvest. Together, this causes increasing crop depredation claims, hard feelings and unfavorable hunter-landowner relations.

“We’re starting a dialogue to identify solutions to this situation,” said Simon. “Our goal is to be innovative, fair and efficient.”

Luedtke earned a fisheries and wildlife degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He has more than four years’ experience coordinating Arizona’s Chronic Wasting Disease program.

Much of Luedtke’s work will involve investigating depredation complaints, providing technical advice to landowners and distributing deer determent materials. He will make recommendations to local government officials and others on effective deer management strategies.

“A big part of my job will be selecting the right tool for the right situation,” Luedtke said. “Sometimes it may be education. In other instances, it could be a localized special hunt, shooting permits, a change in hunting permit numbers or some other action that addresses the legitimate interests of farmers and hunters.”

Luedtke will work out of the DNR’s Whitewater Wildlife Management Area office. He will work primarily in Fillmore, Goodhue, Houston, Olmsted, Wabasha and Winona counties.