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Public meetings will discuss deer management goals

People interested in deer will have a chance to discuss goals and values that could define Minnesota's first-ever deer management plan in a series of 12 public engagement meetings the Department of Natural Resources will host throughout the state between Tuesday, Jan. 31, and Thursday, March 2.

"When people think about deer management, hunting often comes to mind," said Adam Murkowski, DNR big game program leader. "Although hunting opportunities are an important aspect of the plan, it must also balance a wide variety of perspectives and define collaborative ways to enhance deer management and the habitats that sustain deer."

The public engagement meetings are designed to help the DNR and its Deer Management Plan Advisory Committee accomplish that, Murkowski said.

Using input collected from a wide range of stakeholders this summer and fall, committee members are helping the DNR develop an outline of draft deer management goals that will be discussed at each meeting. Participants will be asked for their feedback on the draft goals, including identifying any goals that may have been missed, and suggesting how the department could best achieve each goal.

"These meetings will be different than typical input meetings," Murkowski said. "To get in-depth discussions and feedback, considerable time will be devoted to small group brainstorming and discussions. This format will help ensure we capture everyone's ideas in more detail and depth."

Meetings will be from 6:30-9 p.m. and are scheduled in the these neighboring cities:

• Bemidji on Wednesday, Feb. 1, at Hampton Inn, 1019 Paul Bunyan Drive SE.

• Brainerd on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at Central Lakes College cafeteria, 501 W. College Drive.

• Thief River Falls on Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Ralph Engelstad Arena, 525 Brooks Ave.

• Alexandria on Thursday, Feb. 2, at Broadway Ballroom, 115 30th Ave. E.

• Duluth on Wednesday, Feb. 22, in Room W2630 at Lake Superior College, 2101 Trinity Road.

During the next year, committee members will review technical information and public input collected through this and other processes. The committee will make recommendations to the DNR for the deer plan, which is expected to be finished by the spring of 2018.

More information about the planning process and the committee is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/deerplan.

The DNR strives to maintain a healthy wild deer population that offers recreational and economic opportunities, while addressing conflicts between deer, people and other natural resources. Habitat management, hunting, research and monitoring are several primary tools used to manage the Minnesota deer population. More information on deer management is on the DNR website atwww.mndnr.gov/deer.

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