Lake Elmo Park Reserve to close for deer hunts

Johanna Holub
news editor

Those who frequently use Lake Elmo Park Reserve, located at 1515 Keats Avenue, should be aware that the park will be closed on two different weekends in November: Nov. 9-10 and Nov. 16-17. The reason for the closures? An overabundance of hungry, antlered plant-eaters.

Two deer management harvests have been scheduled at the popular Washington County park, with just over 50 hunters having obtained special lottery permits from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources setting up camp within the reserve.

The participating hunters attended a mandatory safety orientation in October.

There are an estimated 150 or more deer living within the 3.5-square mile recreational area and nearby Sunfish Lake Park, and a hunt is needed to cull the herd, according to a release from the county.

The recommended herd size for Lake Elmo Park Reserve and the surrounding area is 45 to 75, or about half of its current size, and the large concentration of grazing deer has caused “much ... destruction” to the park’s trees and shrubs, county officials report.

Washington County parks coordinator Laura Erickson says the last deer harvest at Lake Elmo Park Reserve took place in 2008, and the county has been doing aerial surveys each year in February or March to monitor deer populations in the park and surrounding areas.

Area motorists should also be aware of the heightened risk for deer crossings during the hunt weekends. Those who regularly traverse 10th Street North, County Road 17 or Highway 5 in the Oakdale and Lake Elmo area should remember to drive at slower speeds and keep an eye out for deer along the road.

Erickson says several Washington County Sheriff’s deputies, as well as a conservation officer, will be stationed in the area to monitor deer crossings and ensure the safety of the hunters and public.

“There are a few suggestions for people driving in the area,” Erickson said. “Obey the speed limits, as usual, and pay special attention on the roads around the park, especially on Highway 5. That’s a pretty common place where deer cross because of its proximity to Sunfish Lake Park.

“You have to be really careful.”

Residents can call 651-430-8370 for more information about the Lake Elmo Park Reserve deer harvest.

Johanna Holub can be reached at jholub@lillienews.com or 651-748-7822.

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