ST. PAUL – Deer hunters, all-terrain vehicle riders, snowmobilers, fishing enthusiasts, and advocates of other outdoor sports are invited to attend a pair of town hall meetings in Merrifield and Aitkin on Friday, Feb. 5 to discuss management of the state's deer herd and other areas of interest to sporting enthusiasts.
State officials, including Reps. Dale Lueck, R-Aitkin, Tom Hackbarth, R-Cedar, and Josh Heintzeman, R-Nisswa, will be in attendance. Hackbarth and Lueck are the respective chairman and vice-chairman of the House Mining and Outdoor Recreation Policy Committee.
The first meeting will be 1 p.m. at Merrifield Marathons Snowmobile Club (21135 County Road 3, Merrifield). The second event will be 6 p.m. at the Aitkin Public Library Conference Center (110 First Ave. N.E., Aitkin).
Similar meetings have taken place elsewhere in the state. The goal is to gather input on a wide range of outdoor related activities. Concerns over doe-permits, ecosystem and forestry management decisions and the permitting for youth hunting are examples of the topics on deer hunting that have been discussed to date.
A lack of updated hunter satisfaction data from hunters has been another subject of concern. The most recent data collected and discussed by DNR officials was from 2012. The newly mandated Hunter Satisfaction Survey was part of the 2015 Game and Fish Bill. The bill was sponsored by Hackbarth and it requires the DNR to not only conduct an annual statewide hunter satisfaction survey but also to post the results online.