As a supplemental deer feeding effort gets under way this week in Northeastern Minnesota, some people may be wondering why feeding is not allowed in deer permit areas 117 and 118 in the Ely area and near or including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Snow depths in that region are at 36 inches, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. That’s the deepest snow currently on the ground in the state.
But that area is also part of Minnesota’s primary moose range, so the DNR opts not to allow supplemental feeding of deer through a formal effort such as this year’s, which could begin this week.
“That’s because it’s moose range, and our moose plan indicates we’d try to seek a ban on recreational deer feeding,” said Steve Merchant, DNR wildlife program manager. “This (supplemental deer feeding) fits in that same vein.
“One thing we try to do is maintain low deer numbers in moose range. That’s because moose are susceptible to a parasite called brainworm that is commonly found in deer. It doesn’t affect deer. Bit it kills moose. At higher deer densities, that parasite is more prevalent.”
According to the state’s moose management plan, the DNR tries to keep deer densities at or below 10 deer per square mile in primary moose range.
No ban on recreational feeding by individuals is currently in place in the primary moose range.
Supplemental feeding of deer was authorized by the DNR last month, and the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association is coordinating the purchase of and distribution of deer feed. A total of $170,000 has been allocated for the feeding effort. The money comes from a 50-cent surcharge on each deer license sold.