STAR TRIBUNE COLUMNIST DENNIS ANDERSON WANTS YOU TO FEEL SORRY FOR THE DEER HUNTERS
Dennis Anderson has been an "outdoors" columnist for the Minnesota Star Tribune since 1993. He writes on various topics such as fishing, hunting, canoeing, etc... and he's also been writing negative articles about gray wolves since he first laid pen to paper in MN. He mostly rambles on about how they need to be hunted because they are eating all of the deer. Here are a few examples of some of the articles he's written.
"Someday, one federal court or another will come to its senses, Minnesota will be allowed to manage its own wolves and these animals will be hunted. When that occurs, wolves will be better off."
August 20, 2010 - Star Tribune
July 10, 2021 - Star Tribune
The above is just a small sample of the articles Dennis has written regarding wolves and deer in northeast Minnesota and it's very apparent he is anti wolf and very pro deer. Regardless of the number of times he's written about both species the theme is always the same - Too many wolves, not enough deer. His focus has mainly been on northeastern Minnesota where wolves, deer, and moose exist together. In his December 4, 2021 article he even shares the following image to give readers a visual of what he's referring to when he complains about the limited number of deer available to hunters in that region.
In the December 2021 articles Dennis has focussed on the low deer harvest in northeastern Minnesota, he even shared several letters he received from readers to back up his position. He shared the following:
The reality really is that Dennis Anderson must have a short memory because he seems to have forgotten a couple things. He seems to have forgotten the DNR wolf webinar back in the fall 2020 where it was clearly stated wolves are not driving down the deer population and he forgot his own words in past articles where he talked about the DNR wanting to lower deer numbers in moose territory.
Let's take a walk down memory lane, shall we...
In February 2016 Dennis Anderson wrote in the Star Tribune the following article:
In 2016 prior to the release of the full moose study the DNR proposed lowering the deer population in prime moose territory to 3 per square mile (psm) because the preliminary study showed brainworm was the leading cause of moose decline. At the time this was being discussed, deer were being managed at 10 psm. The reason deer were being managed at 10 psm was due to the 2010 moose management plan which stated the following:
It was well-known that brainworm, liver flukes, and ticks were all having a negative impact on moose. This was the reason behind moving to 10 psm in primary moose range.
Managing deer at 10 psm is still in effect according to the DNR.
Dennis notes in his 2016 article that "historically, deer and moose didn't share the same territory" and if you look around the nation in the areas where moose are free of brainworm, like on Isle Royale, you'll find that's because there are no white-tailed deer.
In 2010 the moose population in MN was 5,700. Today it stands at 3,150.
When the DNR proposed managing deer at 3 psm in specific areas of northeastern MN to save the moose the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association balked at the idea so it never happened.
Dennis acknowledged in his article that deer are not native to northeastern MN, they moved into that area because of logging, and he also wrote about brainworm being transferred from deer to moose. The DNR later confirmed that brainworm was the primary cause of moose decline. In his article he focuses on the DNR being the source of this information but it's not just coming from them. The University of Minnesota and the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa have been studying moose for over 10 years. This is what was written in Minnesota Daily back in 2019.
Seth Moore, biologist for the Grand Portage Band, says "for the most part deer populations across all of the United States have increased significantly and are continuing to increase. I think some of this is a consequence of climate change and some of this is landscape management practices that we currently employ. The irony is a lot of times we try to manage for lower deer populations by making more liberal hunting regulations and we allow people to harvest more deer and when that becomes effective there are two consequences of that. First of all people harvest more deer they tend to be happy about that but the second consequence is once you achieved your management goals and get the population stabilized or down a little bit people sense the absence of those additional opportunities and the lower population of deer and want that back again. And so you can sometimes use people to manage deer populations but sometimes the downside is people want those opportunities to continue for a long time and people don't really like when you achieve your management objective of reducing the deer population to some extent."
In the interview Seth Moore was asked what the ideal deer population is and his response was:
"What often is done is we'll fly these surveys, we'll come up with what we think is the average deer density across the landscape, I think it falls around 10 deer per square mile, and we try to figure out what might be best for the landscape. You know, for example, if we want to promote moose population and minimize the risk of brain worm to moose we might want to drop the deer population down to 5 per square mile on the landscape and that would significantly reduce the risk of transmission of brain worm into the moose population."
So the DNR once believed it was best to lower the deer population to 3 psm to save moose and biologist Seth Moore mentions it being best to keep deer at 5 psm to save moose and yet the DNR is currently keeping the number at 10 psm even though they are fully aware that the brainworm killing our moose comes from white-tailed deer.
Now let's fast forward to the wolf webinar in Fall 2020 where the topic of deer and wolves came up. According to DNR large carnivore specialist Dan Stark wolves are not driving down the deer numbers. The record highest deer harvest in Minnesota was back in 2003 with 290,525 deer killed by hunters. At that same time our wolf population was also at its highest at 3,020. According to John Erb, wolf research scientist for the DNR "deer are the big drivers of the wolf population. When deer numbers go up, wolf numbers go up." So you'd think with Dennis Anderson always advocating for a wolf hunt as a way to lower the population he'd be fully supportive of lowering deer numbers to keep the number of wolves down and also help save the moose. The less deer we have the less wolves we have which means less wolves and deer in northeastern MN where the moose are. But the only time many deer hunters, the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, and Dennis Anderson bring up moose is when it supports their position that wolves need to be hunted, otherwise moose are just an after thought. This, after all, is about the deer.
In an article titled Scientists: Deer Killing off Minnesota's Moose Population by Josephine Marcotty back in 2017 Randy Bowe said the following:
And that folks is what this is ultimately about. It doesn't matter that Minnesota has nearly 1,000,000 deer across the state, what matters to Dennis and many other deer hunters is whether or not deer are distributed equally in every corner of the state. Most deer hunters want deer anywhere they are allowed to hunt and they don't want just a few deer, they want a large number so that they are easier to find and kill.
One thing many deer hunters are famous for is their reliance on All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs). Below read what long-time deer hunter Barry Babcock from Hubbard County, MN has to say about ATVs.
But... we're not suppose to talk about ATVs and their impact on deer especially now that the state is constructing the 750 mile border to border ATV trail. We're not suppose to talk about the moose and how lowering deer numbers significantly in moose range prevents the spread of brainworm. What Minnesotan's are suppose to do is feel empathy for the struggling deer hunter that sits up in his stand all day in northeastern MN waiting for that 8-point buck to come along. Damn those wolves eating the deer. How dare they? They should go to the grocery store like the rest of us fine folk.
Thank you Dennis for setting us all straight with your enlightening articles.