Deer Population Management
Overall Deer Population
Ramsey County manages the deer population in parks and open spaces as part of a cooperative plan with the cities of Maplewood, Roseville, Saint Paul, Shoreview, Vadnais Heights and White Bear Township. The county conducts aerial surveys each winter to measure population levels. Deer population goals are set on an annual basis based on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources recommendations for a healthy deer herd. Controlled hunts are used to reduce the deer population when the surveys show that an area has population levels in excess of its goal. Locations for deer removal are set from survey and hunter statistic data.
Deer herd populations that exceed the carrying capacity of the land are detrimental to the overall health of the herd and impact the public through increased vehicle/deer collisions and the spread of deer ticks that may carry Lyme disease. Overpopulation of deer also results in damage to ornamental and garden plants, and damage or excessive browsing to native trees, shrubs and plants.
Population Control Measures
Ramsey County Parks & Recreation has determined the most humane and efficient way to control deer herd populations within the park system and surrounding urban areas includes archery and sharpshooting. Research has shown that alternative methods such as contraceptives, trapping and/or relocating deer, are stressful on the deer and can result in a prolonged death. These alternative methods can also be very costly.
Ramsey County conducts special permit archery hunts each fall in partnership with the Metro Bowhunters Resource Base. The annual hunts have been conducted since 2000. All participating hunters attend a pre-hunt orientation, agree to special hunt rules and pass an archery safety class and shooting proficiency test. Archers may keep their deer or donate the venison to local food shelves. During the hunts, entire parks or portions of a park may be closed. Archery hunting is the county's preferred method of deer population control.
Another method utilized within the county is sharpshooting, which is conducted when deer herd populations far exceed the population goal for an area or when archery hunting cannot be done due to safety or accessibility. In these cases, the venison is donated to nonprofit organizations as determined by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Deer Population vs. Target
With guidance given from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wildlife management, the deer population goal is 20 deer per square mile of deer habitat in Ramsey County.
The graph above shows the countywide deer population density (deer per square mile). Deer population densities above the population goal prompt the need for control methods such as special archery hunts or sharpshooting to decrease the local population.