With archery deer season coming up, now is an ideal time for hunters to start using the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ online log for deer and other wildlife sightings.
“We’re asking deer hunters to share their observations of wildlife to help broaden our knowledge about deer and other wildlife species,” said Eric Michel, Minnesota DNR ungulate research scientist. “This is our fourth year using a community science approach, and we’re hoping to build on the helpful results from the last few years.”
The Minnesota DNR uses the information to supplement population estimates, which are an important tool for managing wildlife.
Using a mobile device or desktop computer, deer hunters can enter information on the Minnesota DNR website (mndnr.gov/mammals/deer/management/deer-hunter-field-log.html) about wildlife they see while in the field including deer, turkey, bear, fisher and other species.
Hunters are encouraged to fill out a report after each hunt even if they don’t see any deer that day. Filling out a report even if no deer are observed is important as it allows for an accurate estimate of the number of deer observed per hour of field observations, which provides a useful comparison to deer density modeling results.
The log will remain open through the end of the year.
The Minnesota DNR first developed a version of this survey following a 2016 report from the Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor requesting more checks of the model used to estimate deer populations for each deer permit area. The observation surveys are a way to compare hunter-provided data with Minnesota DNR population estimates.
“By participating in this project, hunters provide another way to check our estimates of deer populations and broaden our knowledge about other animals, in addition to observations from Minnesota DNR wildlife managers,” Michel said.
The Minnesota DNR works with the public to establish deer population goals (mndnr.gov/mammals/deer/management/population.html) for areas throughout the state. Each year, wildlife managers use deer population estimates generated by mathematical models to figure out what level of deer harvest will move a local deer population closer to goal. The Minnesota DNR then sets hunting regulations using past hunter participation and success rates, with the aim of harvest moving the population toward goal.
The Minnesota DNR will report results from hunters’ observations in an annual research summary online. Results from 2022 and previous hunter observation survey results are available on the Minnesota DNR website (mndnr.gov/mammals/deer/management/statistics.html#observe).