ST. PAUL — Hunters will have more opportunities to harvest deer this season, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

"These opportunities are due to increases in deer populations in much of the state and as part of our response to chronic wasting disease in southern Minnesota," said Barbara Keller, big game program leader at the DNR.

Hunters are able to plan for the season with the release of the 2020 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping regulations handbook, which is now available on the DNR hunting page at mndnr.gov.

A significant deer season change is that the early antlerless deer season on Oct. 15-18 has been expanded to include more deer permit areas in north central and far southeastern Minnesota. Permit areas open during the hunt are 213, 214 and 215 — generally north of Interstate 94 from St. Cloud to Alexandria; and 341, 342, 343, 344, 604, 605, 643, 646, 647, 648, 649 and 655, in the south Metro and far southeastern portions of the state.

The early hunt is the same weekend as the statewide youth hunt.

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Also, some deer permit area boundaries in north central and northwestern Minnesota have changed so hunters are advised to check the boundaries of their permit area before they hunt.

These changes are caused by factors such as increased population of deer, risk of chronic wasting disease and input from the public and DNR staff.

The DNR has created additional chronic wasting disease testing areas due to detection of the disease in wild and captive deer in new areas last year. Sampling is voluntary though highly encouraged this season, though it was previously required in certain areas. There will be self-service stations set up for hunters to drop off samples.

More information about sampling will be available on the CWD web page. The regulations handbook can be found on the DNR's deer hunting web page.

Hunting licenses will go on sale on Aug. 1 and are available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov, from any license agent or by contacting 888-665-4236.