Hard winter makes for pesky deer

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It’s been a tough winter for wildlife in Minnesota, even in southern Minnesota, which has been buried in snow.

Officials have been finding some dead deer there, and farmers are complaining about deer feeding on hay and other livestock food.

DNR pilot Brad Maas was flying recently in the Morris area and reported seeing deer at three sites inside the open doors of farm sheds.

“These deer are hungry,” said Ken Varland, Department of Natural Resources regional wildlife manager in New Ulm. The deer will come right into farm yards to eat.

“We have some landowners who are not happy,” he said. The DNR has issued a few shooting permits to allow farmers to kill some deer. But the DNR has tried other methods to discourage deer, too, including placing food elsewhere.

“Our deer populations are relatively low, but we have wintering areas where there might be 50 to a hundred deer to one area,” Varland said. The best way for farmers to protect their feed from wildlife is to fence it, he said.

“We need a break in the weather,” Varland said, adding that pheasants, too, are hurting. “We’ve definitely lost some birds,” he said.

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