Unlimited harvest of antlerless deer would be allowed in the Duluth area to boost whitetail harvest and reduce deer-human conflicts, under a Department of Natural Resources proposal.

Duluth and the surrounding communities would be designated a metro deer management area, where the firearms season also would be extended a week, under the plan.

“Deer-human conflicts are common in the area, while hunter access is limited,” said Chris Balzer, DNR area wildlife manager in Cloquet. “Designating the area a metro deer management area emphasizes just how different this area is from other permit areas and gives local governments more flexibility to manage deer populations.”

The DNR would allow unlimited harvest of antlerless deer during any open deer season in the area that now comprises deer permit area 182. Communities affected would include Duluth, Hermantown, Proctor, Esko and Cloquet. Local governments would determine whether hunters could use bows, firearms or both within their jurisdictions.

The issue will be discussed at a public meeting  from 7-9 p.m. on May 8 in Duluth at the Environmental Protection Agency’s Gitchee Gumee Conference Center.

The DNR said deer populations and hunting are managed the same way in the Twin Cities metropolitan area, which is designated as deer permit area 601. The area in question in and around Duluth would become the state’s second metropolitan deer management area.

Hunter access is limited in the area because most land is privately owned or located within city boundaries, creating refuge-like areas where deer can isolate themselves from hunters.

“Despite a change in 2005 that altered boundaries so deer harvest could be set higher in this area, deer populations remain high,” Balzer said. “The hope is that allowing hunting for an additional week and directly involving local governments will result in more deer being harvested.”

City officials from Duluth and representatives of the Arrowhead Bowhunters Alliance will provide additional details and discuss their perspectives at the meeting, and public comments will be recorded.

More information and an online comment form will be available beginning May 9 on the DNR’s deer management web page at www.mndnr.gov/deer. Written comments may be mailed to Chris Balzer, Cloquet area wildlife manager, 1604 Highway 33 South, Cloquet, MN, 55720 or sent via email to christian.balzer@state.mn.us. The deadline for comments is May 19.

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