DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen on firearms deer opener, new CWD case and her love of deer hunting | KSTP.com

DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen on firearms deer opener, new CWD case and her love of deer hunting

Kevin Doran
Updated: November 05, 2021 08:34 AM
Created: November 04, 2021 07:51 PM

The deer hunting firearms opener is Saturday in Minnesota. It's an annual tradition that brings families and friends together.

The Department of Natural Resources just reported the first suspected case of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in a wild deer on Minnesota's border with North Dakota.

Hunters who harvest deer in permit areas 261 and 262, which are located between Moorhead on the south and Oslo on the north, are strongly encouraged to leave samples at self-service stations in Neilsville and Climax. Once exact locations are established for these two stations, details and instructions will be available on the DNR website, alongside information about sampling stations in CWD surveillance, management and control zones.

So far, 118 cases of CWD have been found in Minnesota's wild deer herd, most in the southeastern part of the state. The disease is also being aggressively managed near Bemidji, the Brainerd Lakes Area and in the south metro.

DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the goal is to try and contain CWD and prevent it from spreading.

"I think we're really taking an aggressive approach to it" said Strommen. "For the most part, we do still have Chronic Wasting Disease contained in specific areas of the state. So getting a good number of samples and from around the various places that we're testing is really important. And, you know, for the most part, deer hunters have been participating in that. And we really value that partnership."

Strommen believes hunters will see a lot of deer.

"We're expecting strong harvest numbers in most parts of the state," she said. "We've had mild winters, so deer numbers should be good; populations are good. I think the far northeast is one exception to that where we had a little bit harsher winters. And so the populations aren't as robust. But overall, we're predicting good conditions, good deer hunting."

Minnesota has had two firearms deer seasons and nearly three years without a hunting-related firearms death. Strommen said that's the longest stretch since the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has been tracking these tragedies. 

"This is a really good time before you're out in the woods for the season to brush up on your rules of firearm safety, to get out your regulation book, know what the rules are where you are planning to hunt," she said. "Make sure that you're tree stand, if you're hunting in a tree stand, is safe and secure and ready. Make sure that you have safety equipment like a harness to keep you there.

"You never predict when an accident is ready to happen. And then, of course, make sure that folks have their blaze orange in place pink, so they're visible in the field as well. So I think with an emphasis on all of those points and making sure that people make that plan to be safe before they go out, that's one of the reasons that we have such a good safety record here in Minnesota."

Commissioner Strommen is a deer hunter herself. And like all others who participate, she's thrilled the opener is here.

"I think Minnesotans are always excited for the firearms deer opener," she said. It's a time-honored tradition. The outlook looks pretty good in most parts of the state. So yeah, I'm looking forward to being one of those half a million Minnesotans out there in the field."

And anyone who hunts will tell you deer hunting is as much about spending time with people you love as it is getting a deer.

"I think for a lot of people, it's really about the experience," said Strommen. "We hunt in the North Woods. So having that experience of watching the sun come up and watching the sun go down and seeing that seeing the critters all around, and then anticipation, you know, of what you might see. And you know, if it's a successful hunt all the better."

You'll find information on regulations in your specific deer hunting zone here.  Also, please share your memories with us by posting at kstp.com and include #HuntMN when posting on social media.
 


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