Shotgun deer harvest scheduled for Lake Elmo Park Reserve

County officials say there are too many deer roaming the Lake Elmo Park Reserve and have called for a shotgun harvest to cull the herd this fall.

Washington County Parks Manager Peter Mott said the county conducted an aerial survey of the herd by helicopter last winter and counted 102 deer prior to does giving birth to fawns this spring.

There are now an estimated 130 deer living within the 3.5-square-mile recreation area, located at 1515 Keats Ave, and experts from Washington County and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources say the carrying capacity is 15 to 20 deer per square mile, or a total of about 45 to 60 deer.

“Overpopulation results in habitat and vegetation degradation, increased deer and vehicle accidents, and may increase risk for Lyme disease transmission,” according to a written statement from the county. 

Staff from Washington County Parks and the Minnesota DNR recommended a special hunt be conducted the first and second weekends in November to remove between 60 and 80 deer from the park, which was approved by the county board July 21.

The park will be closed for two deer hunts Nov. 7-8 and Nov. 14-15. The DNR will randomly select 40 hunters who have obtained special lottery permits

Parks staff will work with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and DNR to conduct the hunts.

Mott said DNR officials would go over rules and regulations for the two hunts at a pre-hunt meeting this fall. Each permit holder will be assigned to an individual zone in the park, and will only be allowed to hunt within the zone’s boundary.

A harvest has been conducted in the park six times in the past 20 years.

The most recent took place in November 2013, when 50 hunters were given special permits to hunt deer in the park.

One of the highest-population years was in 2008, when the estimated number of deer at the park reserve and Sunfish Lake park was 200.

Mott said an extremely windy hunting opener last season -- with 20-25 mph winds -- kept many deer from leaving the park and moving into areas permitted for hunting, and likely contributed to a lower than normal harvest in the area.

Residents can call 651-430-4323 for more information on the Lake Elmo Park

Reserve deer harvest.

Joshua Nielsen can be reached at or 651-748-7822.


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