Interested individuals are invited to a public meeting in Winona to provide input on whether the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) should recommend that antler point restrictions continue in southeastern Minnesota.

The meeting scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 27, in the Tandeski Center at Winona Southeast Technical College, 1250 Homer Rd. is from 7-9 p.m.

People also may choose to view an online presentation at www.mndnr.gov/wildlife/input/sedeer and complete a survey.

The DNR will use information gathered from mailed hunter surveys, these meetings and online survey responses to develop a 2013 season structure that it will recommend to the Legislature.

Legislation passed in 2011 requires legislative approval to continue antler point restrictions in southeastern Minnesota.

Special regulations enacted in 2010 created the restrictions, which received extensive biological review and examination of social implications prior to enactment. Those regulations included:

• A nine-day firearms deer season for both the 3A (early) and 3B (late) hunts.

• An antler restriction of four points on one side for all hunters older than 17 during the archery, firearms and muzzleloader seasons.

• Prohibiting hunters from tagging an antlered buck for another hunter.

• Establishing a youth-only season in October during an extended mid-month break for most public school children.

During the past two months, 4,000 surveys were sent to randomly-selected hunters in the 3A and 3B seasons. Preliminary results from that survey indicate public support for continuing the antler point restriction regulations that were enacted in 2010.

Overall, 61 percent of respondents said the regulations should continue. Survey results are preliminary because another survey mailing recently was sent out to hunters who had not responded to either of the first two mailings. Final results, which will be available this spring, are not expected to change appreciably.

"While overall support for continuing the antler point restriction regulation was 61 percent in the survey, we did see some differences between early 3A season and late 3B season respondents," said Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager.

"There is majority support from hunters in both seasons but early 3A season hunters are generally more supportive of the regulations."

Since about 2003, more and more hunters have gradually chosen to hunt the early 3A season rather than the late 3B season.

In 2012, about 25,000 hunters participated in the early 3A season while 14,000 participated in the late 3B season.

For other questions in the mail survey, there was strong support among 3A hunters to continue the 9-day season (88 percent); conversely, support was much lower for 3B hunters (45 percent).

For cross-tagging, 33 percent opposed continuation of that regulation. The remaining respondents either supported (46 percent) or didn't care (21 percent) if it continued.

The youth exemption was also supported by a majority (71 percent) of all respondents.