A: First, the deer population is not down. The state’s estimated population was 700,000 in 2010, but was up to 920,000 in 2017. Wolves have been removed from the Threatened Species List more than once in recent years and then relisted again. It is a federal legal issue and that is beyond the control of the State of Minnesota. When wolves are removed from the Threatened Species List, they come under the MN DNR’s management jurisdiction; however, when they are listed, they are managed by federal regulations. With the far less numbers of wolves in Minnesota (2,856) compared to the much greater numbers of deer (920,000), combined with the deer’s high reproductive potential and capacity for survival, even relative to wolf predation, it is not the wolf population that is driving the population performance of deer or their numbers in the forest zone. Annually, the state harvest has a much greater impact on deer population performance and numbers.
Response by Glenn DelGiudice, DNR Research Scientist