Hunters Angry Over DNR Deer Dumping in Rochester

January 04, 2017 07:13 PM

(ABC 6 NEWS) – The Minnesota DNR says it’s reviewing its protocols after ABC 6 News contacted them about deer being dumped near a public trail.

On December 30, Michael Wondrow was pheasant hunting on Gordon Yeager State Wildlife Management Area, an area that is open to public hunting.


Wondrow says during his hunt he stumbled upon dozens of deer carcasses near a trail in the Wildlife Management Area.

"I thought it was a pheasant hunt and it turned into a horror movie, a bunch of deer sitting there," said Wondrow.

Wondrow says he immediately called the DNR but says he never heard back. He then reached out to ABC 6 News for some answers.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Communications Director Chris Niskanen says the DNR has been disposing deer at this particular site for a "number of years that are not fit for human consumption."

“At one point this area was remote. It was a spot where we would routinely dispose of carcasses for a number of years,” said Niskanen. “We typically place them in a remote area in order to let nature take its course.”

According to the DNR’s 2016 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulation Handbook, hunters who process their own deer may not dispose of carcasses on public land including wildlife management areas.

ABC 6 News asked the DNR why their officers could use Wildlife Management Areas to dispose deer carcasses.

“State statute prohibits the public from dumping trash, sludge, rocks, vehicles and carcasses (all kinds, including cattle) on wildlife management areas (note: hunters can legally field-dress animals and leave the offal on state lands),” said Niskanen in an email.

“However, the DNR is responsible under state statute to manage wildlife (dead or alive) on state lands and Wildlife Management Areas, and we find it necessary to use discreet and remote areas to allow confiscated deer carcasses that are unfit for human consumption to decompose naturally. Also, most road authorities have sites like this on their own property where road-killed animals are placed to decompose. We acknowledge the unfortunate circumstances of this situation, and we are making corrections. We are also reviewing other sites to ensure they are remote and not visible to the public,” added Niskanen.

The DNR is currently in the process of testing for Chronic Wasting Disease. Niskanen says some of the deer heads found in the waste site were tested for the disease.

“There were some deer heads that were there that were part of our CWD protocol. In this case the protocol for disposing of those heads in the landfill was not followed in a couple cases here and some of the heads were left at this disposal site. We’re not going to let that happen anymore. We are revisiting all of our protocols for disposing of those heads. Those heads shouldn’t have been there.”

Brook Johnson is the president of a nonprofit called Minnesota Bow Hunters Inc. He says he’s been following the recent developments of CWD found in Fillmore County.

“To find out that they’re responsible for that, and they’re the ones who are spending all the money on this disease, it’s inexcusable,” said Johnson.

According to the DNR the deer in the pile tested negative for CWD.

“As for where the deer came from, it’s safe to say they were primarily from the Rochester area.,” said Niskanen in an email.

While the DNR admits the tested deer heads shouldn’t have been in the pile, the response from some hunters remains the same.

“I think there should be some kind of internal investigation to find out how cans this possibly happen with the agency tasked to protect the public resource to engage in this kind of reckless behavior,” added Johnson.


Karsen Forsman

Copyright 2017 - KAAL-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company


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