Does The Wolf Population Affect The Deer Population

There is overwhelming scientific evidence by the DNR that wolves alone have little impact on the deer population in Minnesota and Wisconsin. That the deer harvest, deer management, and winters severity have a much greater impact on the Deer population. However there is also overwhelming studies that tell you that the wolf population has a direction impact on the deer population, so which way is it?

Understanding Research Studies

First you need to understand that research is only as good as the research itself and the experience of those doing the researcher. In other words, how good is the research program plan and are the researchers those that sit behind a desk all day and walk into the wilderness every once in awhile, or are they true outdoors-men that have spend hours every year in the woods? These are keys questions in any good wilderness research.

You will also find for any research done by one institution will have an opposite argument from another institution. The main reason for this is because each have different outcome expectations. For example Dave Mech’s research on the wolf’s impact on the Moose Population in Northeastern Minnesota, showed that Wolves likely have played a bigger role in the Moose decline than originally believed, and research done by the Department of Natural Resources “just doesn’t hold up.” So is the same true for the Whitetail Deer?

Who Is Right

So how do we know who or what to believe? Well the answer to that is easy, just talk to the hunters and landowners, they know. So I did just that and contacted many of my fellow hunters and some landowners, here is what they have to say. Yes the Winter severity, hunter’s harvest, and deer management have an impact on the deer population, but by adding the wolf the overall impact is more sever then the combination of the other three. Let’s take a look.

Winter Severity

The Winter weather is a natural affect, which if harsh will have a sever impact on the deer population. However, any Winter that makes it very difficult for Deer to travel will cause a much higher death rate now, as this gives the wolf an advantage in killing its primary prey (deer).

Deer harvest

Deer harvest is controlled by the DNR, who through their studies know what the herd size is and control this by the allotment of harvest tags for each area. This is why you will see extra Doe tags, Buck only, and Earn a Buck programs.

This year (2015) I talked to one group of hunters (18) that bagged only one Deer in Northern Minnesota. They said we only saw one deer, heard many wolves, and it only took 30 minutes for the wolves to be on that gut pile. It was almost like the wolves came calling to the gun shot.

Another Father & Son team (3 in all) did not see a deer this year. They felt very unsafe entering and exiting the woods, keeping guns loaded due to the number of wolves in the area.

Deer Management

Deer Management is something that the DNR, Landowners, and Hunters need to own together. All of us need to implement and practice deer management if we want to maintain a good deer population. A good deer management program will also improve the number of mature Bucks in an area.

Wolf Population

Common sense tells us that as the Wolf population increases the Deer population must decreased. We know that the Moose population dropped drastically and now we are seeing the same with our Whitetail Deer. This year the hunters and landowners are seeing little in fresh deer sign and yet they are seeing many wolf tracks, which is very frustrating. They believe it may require closing the Whitetail Deer season for a year or two to see if that will help bring back the population.


The wolf population is increasing quickly and has a much higher impact on the deer population than the DNR is stating. Hunters and Landowners are saying that the damage to the deer population in Northern Minnesota, due to wolves, will take years to recover once we control the wolf population. But, how do you control the wolf population, by having a hunting season? How do you keep the wolf from expanding it’s territory and leaving Northern Minnesota & Wisconsin?

The Red Wolf reestablished in Northern Wisconsin has already require a profession wild animal control, to shoot two near Brian OH that were killing pets, verified by tags on the wolves. And the Grey Wolf has been seen in areas such as Chippewa Falls WI and Cannon Falls MN.