Outdoors blog: Fishing fees, deer baiting, grouse hunting on legislative agenda
By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune
Fishing fees, deer baiting on legislative agenda
Lots of interesting things happening at the Minnesota Legislature involving the outdoors.
Earlier, I wrote about the Department of Natural Resources wishing to ban the practice of deer feeding from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31, so as to discourage the illegal baiting of deer. Rep. David Dill, DFL-Crane Lake, who chairs the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee, declined to include that DNR provision in his House Omnibus Game and Fish bill.
But in a conversation with Sen. Satveer Chaudhary, DFL-Fridley, on Friday, Chaudhary said he would include that feeding ban provision in the Senate Omnibus Game and Fish bill. Chaudhary is chair of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
Dill had said he was "leaning toward" allowing baiting for deer. He sees an inconsistency between deer baiting, which is illegal in Minnesota, and the use of naturally grown food plots, which some hunters plant and then hunt over. Chaudhary has a different view.
"I prefer the baiting ban," Chaudhary said, "particularly with the problems we've had with bovine tuberculosis. Banning baiting may seem like an inconvenience, but the people of Grygla will tell you how inconvenient it was to have the DNR come in and slaughter hundreds of deer that could have been hunted."
DNR sharpshooters killed the deer because of outbreaks of bovine tuberculosis in Northwestern Minnesota.
Chaudhary also wants to increase the penalties for deer baiting.
Chaudhary said the Senate's Game and Fish bill also would include a DNR-sponsored provision that would require grouse hunters to turn off and be a specified distance away from their vehicles before shooting at a grouse. That provision was in effect until two years ago, then was repealed by the Legislature.
"I don't think we should have anything in our loaws that suggests it's OK to shoot grouse from the actual ATV," Chaudhary said.
Actually, current law prevents shooting from a motor vehicle, including an ATV, although grouse hunters may leave the machine running and stand near it to shoot at a bird.
Chaudhary listed other priorities for the sesson, among them:
- Increasing the cost of a fishing license by $4 in 2011 and another $4 in 2015
- Repealing definitions relating to guidelines used by the Lessard Outdoor Heritage Council in recommending how to spend conservation dollars in the Outdoor Heritage Fund. Those definitions were modified by the Legislature at the end of the 2009 session.
- creating a program for "walk-in" hunting areas financed by the Outdoor Heritage Fund. Chaudhary said he would set up "eligibility criteria" for farmers who wanted to participate in the program requiring them to improve or enhance their lands to qualify for the program. Under such a program, farmers would be paid a fee in exchange for opening their lands to hunters.
All of these bills are subject to change as the Legislative session continues.