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fishattacker

Camp Ripley Deer "By the Numbers"

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I posted this in fishingminnesota.com, but thought I would post it here as well.

I just got the Camp Ripley Reporter and it has an article about the deer population and the management plan. I will copy and paste it in below.

CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. – Minnesotans have had exceptional deer hunting over the last ten years with liberal bag limits and high harvest numbers, along with several mild winters. Yes, deer hunting success has been trending down the last two years for multiple reasons and most hunters have their personal opinions. The Environmental Staff at Camp Ripley have fielded a lot of questions lately; most comments were about not seeing many deer and too many wolves.

So let us tell you a little about Camp Ripley and how we manage white-tailed deer and other resources.

Camp Ripley is the largest training center for the Minnesota Army National Guard (MNARNG), noted for its wealth of natural and cultural resources. Camp Ripley’s critical role is the military training and readiness of not only the MNARNG, but military units from surrounding states and various law enforcement entities. In 2014 over 450,000 man-days of training took place in addition to the 850 full-time MNARNG and civilian personnel that work on post.

Encompassing 53,000 acres, Camp Ripley is home to 600 plant, 214 bird, and 51 mammal species, incredible habitat diversity, and 18 miles of Mississippi River frontage. The installation’s natural resource conservation program supporting this critical environmental and training resource has a long record of excellence, distinguished by an unwavering commitment to the army’s triple bottom line: Mission, Environment, and Community; with a comprehensive approach to wildlife and land management that includes forestry, encroachment protection, community outreach and partnerships. Camp Ripley is exemplary in balancing an unparalleled natural and cultural resources program.

The annual public archery deer hunt at Camp Ripley continues to be known as one of the largest and most anticipated archery hunts in the nation since its establishment in 1954. This hunt is administered by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR). In mid-summer hunters apply for one of two, 2-day hunts. The application fees associated with this hunt enable the MNDNR to conduct the hunt. Running this hunt takes dollars to support military security and DNR staff, facilities to support the camping area, road repair and mailings.

So what’s been happening during the Camp Ripley archery white-tailed deer hunt the last 25 years and how is it managed?

From 1990-2003; between 3,000 and 5,000 permits have been issued annually. The number of permits has varied from year to year but on average 4,000 permits were offered to hunters. On average 3,096 individuals participated, with an average harvest of 270 white-tailed deer. During this time frame the management was a one deer limit and no management tags were allowed. (Reference Figure 1 Public Archery Hunt Harvest Data on Pg. 6.)

From 2004-2013; between 4,521-5,014 permits have been issued annually. Similarly, while the number of permits has varied from year to year on average 4,908 permits were offered to hunters and an average of 4,184 individuals participated. The average harvest during this timeframe was 461 white-tailed deer given a two deer limit and management tags were allowed. (Reference Figure 1 Public Archery Hunt Harvest Data on Pg. 6.)

Due to a lower harvest in the 2013 season, (308 white-tailed deer) and the harsh winter of 2013 -2014, the local DNR wildlife manager in conjunction with Camp Ripley staff recommended reducing the number of hunters by 20%. As a result, the management recommendation in 2014 included a one deer limit and to issue no more than 4,000 permits. So in 2014; 3,805 permits were issued and 2,966 hunters participated. The hunters harvested 145 white-tailed deer.

It’s not too hard to think back to the winter of 2013-14 and remember shoveling snow daily and

braving -10 degree temps for days on end. Did this have an affect on deer or wildlife? Absolutely!

So, how does the DNR measure the intensity of Mother Nature’s winter?

Winter Severity Index (WSI) is a formula that takes into account snow depth, timing, duration and

temperature. These numbers are calculated by accumulating a point for each day with an ambient

temperature <=0 degrees F and an additional point for each day with snow depth >= 15 inches. End

of season values < 100 indicate a mild winter, values >180 indicate a severe winter. (Reference

Figure 2, which correlates the WSI to the harvest data.)

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Camp Ripley Deer and Wolves

Article By: Camp Ripley Public Affairs Office &

The Environmental Office of Camp Ripley

What about them Wolves?

Gray wolves were first documented on Camp Ripley in 1993. Camp Ripley provides good quality habitat for wolves on the southern edge of the Minnesota wolf range. Shortly after wolves reestablished themselves on Camp, biologists started research that involved radio-collaring wolves. In the past nineteen years, forty-three wolves have been captured and radio-collared on Camp Ripley to determine pack size, movements, causes of mortality, and possible affects of military training.

Since 1994 one to three wolf packs have been documented using Camp Ripley or the surrounding lands; although for the short time that three packs used Camp, the south pack spent most of its time off Camp. Based on acreage and existing density of white-tailed deer, maximum possible wolf density at Camp Ripley has been calculated to be 16 –18. Since the survey work began, winter wolf numbers on or around Camp Ripley have ranged from 4 to 18 animals (Figure 3). Wolf pack size is highly variable due to the birth of pups, dispersal, and mortality. Historically, when the population reaches peak levels on Camp, dispersal and mortality reduces the population not long thereafter. Therefore, within any 5-year period, large oscillations in wolf numbers occur. Currently, two wolf packs use Camp Ripley; one of the packs typically stays on Camp throughout the year, the other pack splits its time between Camp and the surrounding area.

What impact do wolves have on Camp Ripley deer?

Research shows that wolves are not driving deer out of Camp or greatly affecting their population. During a deer study conducted from 1999 to 2002 researchers recorded all of the causes of deer mortality. Of 29 radio-collared adult female deer that died during the study, over 50% died from hunting, but less than 15% from predation, not all of which was attributed to wolves.

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Deer Management for the Future

Article By: Camp Ripley Public Affairs Office &

The Environmental Office of Camp Ripley

CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Camp Ripley is revisiting its deer

population and management goals similar to what the MNDNR

is doing in central MN; however the goal setting process is

slightly different than outside of Camp Ripley. This is primarily

due to the installation’s size (~ 53,000 acres) and status as a

statutory game refuge and military training site. Regardless, the

primary mission of Camp Ripley is military training.

Camp Ripley’s deer population is not managed with a priority of producing trophy-status bucks,

although trophy bucks are what Camp Ripley is known for, nor are they managed with goals of

maximizing hunting opportunity or harvest. Instead, hunting is used to control deer numbers and

manage the deer population. As managers and citizens of MN we need to remember that Camp

Ripley is not a high fenced wildlife park. Deer, wolves, and black bear that reside on Camp Ripley

have free range. It is not uncommon for any of Camp Ripley’s monitored wildlife species to travel

outside its boundaries and be found miles from the Camp’s boundary. We must remind ourselves that

what deer numbers are doing outside of Camp Ripley’s boundaries are likely similar to within.

Camp Ripley’s deer population is unique when considering other factors such as high quality,

intact, and diverse habitats, and relatively low levels of human activity or

encroachment. However, the greatest influences of Camp Ripley’s deer

herd are winter severity and regulated harvest (hunting), which are similar

to the rest of the state.

Camp Ripley will institute a new procedure regarding its deer management

goals. The procedure will involve stakeholders from Camp’s military

personnel, environmental personnel, and personnel from the MNDNR.

Many topics will be considered in establishing its goals including: optimal

military training environment, deer per square mile, too many or too few

deer, forest health, and ecological diversity. In addition aerial surveys are

scheduled for Camp Ripley and the surrounding area this winter (2015).

The end state is to have well defined deer management goals for 2015.

Looking ahead to the 2015 deer season, we would anticipate hunters can expect similar bag limits and available permits. The winter of 2015 is setting up for ideal overwintering conditions for white-tail deer and other wildlife species. Last season’s harvest was conservative so we will see more deer on the landscape in 2015. Camp Ripley will continue to be a leader in natural resources management while maintaining a high quality military training environment.

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