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DNR warns: be ready for deer on the road

October 19, 2009

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

As Minnesota’s 1.2 million white-tailed deer population begins mating season and becomes more active, the Minnesota departments of Public Safety (DPS) and Natural Resources (DNR) urge motorist to drive at safe speeds and pay attention.

Deer movement peaks after sundown and before sunrise.

In the last three years in Minnesota, 2006–, there were 9,820 deer–vehicle crashes resulting in 18 deaths of which 16 were motorcyclists.

The crashes also resulted in 76 serious injuries of which 57 were motorcyclists.

DPS reports the overrepresentation of motorcyclists is due to the fact that motorcyclists lack the protective cage other motorists have in vehicles.

DPS and DNR estimate that only one-third of the crashes are reported.

“Deer–vehicle crashes are hard to avoid, but these crashes can be prevented if motorists buckle up, drive at safe speeds and never swerve when encountering a deer in the road,” said Cheri Marti, director of DPS Office of Traffic Safety.

“Swerving to avoid a deer or any other animal can result in your vehicle going off the road or into oncoming traffic. The best defense is to be buckled and brake.”

Marti said that a motorcyclist’s best response is to slow down quickly and, unlike other vehicles, swerve around the animal if traffic allows.

Riders are encouraged to wear helmets and other protective gear to prevent injury or death in a crash.

Col. Jim Konrad, DNR Enforcement director noted that being knowledgeable about deer activities can also help Minnesotan’s stay out of harm’s way, especially during the fall breeding season, commonly referred to as the “rut.”

During the rut, deer are more active than usual as they become preoccupied with mating.

Summer’s fawns can also make their ways onto roadways after their mothers leave them to mate.

“It’s a time when deer don’t seem to maintain that invisibility and distance that typically keeps them from dangerous interactions with motorists,” Konrad said. He noted that drivers shouldn’t assume trouble has passed completely when a deer successfully crosses the road. Deer frequently travel in groups.

Hunters also play a role in moving deer during daylight hours.

Small game hunters moving through fields occasionally flush deer from their resting places.

Bear and bow hunters also flush deer from forested areas.

“If you see hunters in blaze orange near the road it’s probably a good idea to slow down, especially if you hear gunfire,” Konrad said.

Motorists also should slow down whenever farmers are harvesting cornfields because deer are often flushed from fields as farm equipment approaches them.

If a deer is struck by a vehicle, but not killed, drivers are urged to stay their distance because some deer may recover and move on.

However, if a deer does not move on, or poses a public safety risk, drivers are encouraged to report the incident to a DNR conservation officer or other local law enforcement agency.

Motorist Safety Tips for Deer:

• Drive at safe speeds and be prepared and alert for deer.

• Don't swerve to avoid a deer, this can cause you to lose control and travel off the road or into oncoming traffic. The best defense is to buckle up and brake.

• Don’t count on deer whistles or deer fences to deter deer from crossing roads in front of you. Stay alert.

• Watch for the reflection of deer eyes and for deer silhouettes on the shoulder of the road. If anything looks slightly suspicious, slow down.

• Slow down in areas known to have a large deer population; where deer-crossing signs are posted; places where deer commonly cross roads; areas where roads divide agricultural fields from forest land; and whenever in forested areas between dusk and dawn.

• Deer do unpredictable things. Sometimes they stop in the middle of the road when crossing. Sometimes they cross and quickly re-cross back from where they came; sometimes they move toward an approaching vehicle. Assume nothing.

Slow down; blow your horn to urge the deer to leave the road. Stop if the deer stays on the road; don’t try to go around it.

Any Minnesota resident may claim a road-killed animal by contacting a law enforcement officer.

An authorization permit will be issued allowing the individual to lawfully possess the deer.

Prairie Archers steak/shrimp dinner in LP

Prairie Archers will once again be hosting a steak/shrimp dinner at the Dodge House in Lester Prairie Saturday, Oct. 24 from 5 to 8 p.m.

The dinner includes a baked potato, tossed salad, bread, dessert, coffee or milk, and a complimentary drink.

The cost of the meal runs from $8 to $14 depending on the main course selection.

Call in your reservation before 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23 to Jim Richardson (320) 395-2721 or to the Dodge House (320) 395-2877.

Migration reports
From Avery Pro-Staff

Name: Ben Cade

Date: October 11, 2009

Location: Buffalo, MN

Weather: Below normal temps with some snowfall occurring.

Snow Cover: A trace.

Water Conditions: All area lakes were open as of October 11. Some smaller bodies of water had been getting a ring of ice in the mornings.

Feeding Conditions: Harvest is still way behind due to the wet conditions. There are a few silage fields as well as several sweet corn fields for the birds to feed in.

Species and Numbers: We do have a good number of ducks holding on private lakes and ponds. There are starting to be a good number of diving ducks around. Goose numbers are low, but there are hunt-able numbers around. There are still wood ducks and teal in the area.

Migrations: Nothing major, but there are a few new birds in the area.

Season Stage: We are several weeks into the waterfowl season.

Hunting Report: Hunting pressure has continued to be heavy on public areas. If you are lucky enough to be able to hunt a private pond or lake, you may be seeing results. There has been a lot of shooting in the area on weekend mornings.

Gossip: Reports from guys who have been putting in plenty of scouting time have been very good. Hunting has been difficult for the early part of the season, but it seems to be getting better. There have been some rumors of good numbers of birds moving to the north and northwest of us.

Temporary off-HWY vehicle trail closures aim to protect riders and hunters this Nov.
From the DNR

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) forest trails and access routes will be closed to off-highway vehicles (OHV) at times during November to protect recreational riders from potentially unsafe riding conditions and to minimize conflicts between deer hunters and recreational riders during the 2009 firearms deer hunting season.

The trail closures apply to the use of all-terrain vehicles, off-highway motorcycles, and off-road vehicles, such as jeeps and four-wheel drive trucks, by recreational riders on state forest trails or non-designated forest access routes.

Licensed deer hunters may still use these routes in conjunction with their hunting activity:
• Before legal shooting time.
• From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• After legal shooting hours.

Effective dates of the recreational riding restrictions will be:
• Nov. 7 through Nov. 22 for the northeastern Minnesota 100 Series deer season.
• Nov. 7 through Nov. 15 for the Minnesota 200 Series deer season.

Because recreational OHV trails located in southeastern Minnesota close Nov. 1 each year, no additional OHV riding restrictions are necessary in that part of the state.

While many recreational OHV riders have voluntarily opted not to ride forest trails during deer hunting and small game seasons, recreational OHV riding has become a year-around sport for many.

That is why Holsten reminds everyone who visits Minnesota’s state forests this fall to always put safety first.

For more information, see the 2009 firearms deer season zone map posted online at or call (651) 296-6157 or 888-646-6367.

Wetlands enhancement measure passes House
From Ducks Unlimited

The US House of Representatives passed a bill to enhance the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and improve continental conservation efforts.

Ducks Unlimited supports the measure, which would allow more Canadian investment into the program.

The program conserves important habitat in the US, Canada, and Mexico.

“The North American Wetlands Conservation Act continues to be one of the great success stories of conservation,” said Ducks Unlimited Director of Governmental Affairs Scott Sutherland. “In the 20 years of the program more than 25 million acres of habitat have been conserved – and this bill will help that success continue.”

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Rob Wittman, (Va.), who sits on the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission.

The panel consists of members of the Cabinet and four Members of Congress.

“Broad support exists for amending this legislation, and given the overwhelming interest in protecting wildlife habitats, we shouldn’t waste another moment or dime in failure to act on this legislation,” said Wittman, the bill’s sponsor, in a statement.

The program has a unique nature, which requires a dollar for match from state and local governments, non-profit groups like Ducks Unlimited, or community groups for each dollar awarded in federal grants.

Because projects are so popular, the federal dollars often leverage 2-3 times the grant in matching funds.

More than $1 billion in grants has leveraged more than $3 billion in matching and non-matching funds.

With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest, most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization and has conserved more than 12 million acres.

The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands – nature’s most productive ecosystem – and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres important to waterfowl each year.

Question of the Week
From the DNR

Q: How did Minnesota Conservation Volunteer, the official magazine of the DNR, get its name?

A: The name Minnesota Conservation Volunteer stems from the magazine’s original purpose.

It became the official publication of DNR in 1940, known then as the Minnesota Department of Conservation.

The intent was to help mobilize an army of “conservation volunteers” throughout the state.

Readers were encouraged to take a pledge to “support by word and deed all aspects of conservation.”

Early issues of the magazine featured a card that Conservation Volunteers could clip and carry with them in their wallets.
Nearly 70 years later, the magazine still relies on volunteers.

It has 168,000 subscribers and is funded solely by reader donations, which pay for the entire cost of producing and printing the magazine, including shipping, staff salaries and other expenses.