Jeanine Vorland, Area Wildlife Manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources today went before the Rice County Board of Commissioners.  They were meeting as a Committee of the Whole.  It was the only item on their agenda at the Government Services Building in Faribault.  The DNR was asking permission to hold a special deer hunt in Cannon River Wilderness Park about 4 miles north of Faribault.

Vorland told commissioners last March a wild deer with CWD was discovered near Farmington in southern Dakota County, "That was our first discovery outside of our known areas in southeastern Minnesota.  In response to that we're trying to keep our wild deer herd healthy so we liberalized deer season.  Kind of our response is to draw a circle around a known positive wild deer and increase our hunting pressure.  With the COVID issues this year we decided to go to voluntary hunter submission.  They submit the heads of the deer harvested.  They donate those. We have the deer tested and our testing rates unfortunately have fallen below what we need for good statistical sampling."

Vorland requested Rice County to allow a extended hunt a couple days after Christmas and a couple of days the weekend after New Year's Day in the Cannon River Wilderness Park just north of Faribault explaining there would be, "Four more days of hunting.  Hunters would be required to submit samples.  There would be no vountary on that.  It would be mandatory.  It still would not be in person.  It would be to use what we call a head box submission.  You're hosting one at the fairgrounds and at the Lonsdale Highway Shop."

Vorland added, "We collect samples and hopefully it will increase our sample size.  Depending on what we find, you know there may additional special hunts or late season that would occur later in winter but that's not determined at this time."

Vorland recommended the county go with an archery hunt, "You can limit the number of hunters.  We have kind of a rule of thumb when I'm looking like hunting Nerstrand or other parks is we say about one hunter per 20 acres.  That's a lot of hunters for the wilderness area (850 acres). If you go through the DNR we would issue the permits.  We would have a lottery.  Put your name in a hat and whomever gets drawn gets drawn,  River Bend and Carleton elected to select their own people."

Vorland explained River Bend had a proficiency test for archers.

Rice County Attorney John Fossum told the board, "Commissioners the wilderness park was donated to the county by Carleton and some property owners in the area.  The document turning the land over has a reverter clause in it that says that the land shall forever be held as a nature preserve for scientific, educational and aesthetic purposes and shall be kept entirely in it's natural state without any disturbance whatever of habitat, or plant, or animal populations. Excepting undertaking of scientific research, maintenance of fences and foot trails without impairing the essential natural charachter of the premises,"

He will check with Carleton to make sure the CWD testing will be considered a scientific research project.

Vorland assumed that would be the case saying there has been a hunt there in the past.  "That was for population management.  If you allow deer numbers to run out of control for too long they'll really destroy the ecological integrity of Wilderness Park.  So when we had the management hunt in the past there is a 40 acre parcel  within there that does have a no hunting clause.  So that would have to be identified and cut out."

Commissioners appeared to agree on having archery only.  Requiring hunters to wear blaze orange and keeping the park open but the final vote will come next week during their regular board meeting.

I went out to the park to take some photos of the beautiful area.  It is 850 acres of wilderness.  While there I saw a bald eagle fly above and while taking a picture of some garbage left by the road (turns my stomach) a raccoon came out from the woods in the middle of the morning.


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