Open season with new omnibus game and fish law

Minnesotans will have to pay more for virtually every game and fish license they acquire in the state, but they will also have the opportunity to hunt and trap wolves.

The omnibus game and fish law raises dozens of license fees charged to anglers and hunters in the state. The fee increases, most of which take effect March 1, 2013, were requested by the Department of Natural Resources and many private hunting and fishing groups with the goal of improving the state’s conservation and wildlife management programs. As examples, a resident fishing license will increase from $17 to $22, and a resident deer hunting license will increase from $26 to $30. Fees for snowmobile registrations are also increased.

The law establishes a wolf-hunting license and specifies that revenue from the licenses is to be deposited into a special account that will be used for “wolf management, research, damage control, enforcement, and education.” Wolf licenses will cost $30 for residents and $250 for nonresidents. The law also includes various requirements and restrictions for wolf hunters.

A “walk-in access” program is established to provide hunters with access to wildlife habitat on private land. The DNR will be allowed to enter into agreements with landowners and local units of government for this purpose, and the law specifies how and when hunters may use lands enrolled in the program. Hunters will be given the option to donate to the program when paying for their small game licenses.

Among other provisions, the law will require publicly owned shooting ranges (such as police ranges) in the seven-county metropolitan area to open their doors to the public twice in the spring and twice in the summer for DNR youth firearms safety instruction courses. This provision does not apply to Minneapolis or St. Paul, or to correctional facilities.

The following is a summary of selected provisions in the law. Except where otherwise noted, they take effect Aug. 1, 2012. Rep. Tom Hackbarth (R-Cedar) and Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen (R-Alexandria) are the sponsors.

Fishing:

The following provisions are included:

  • allowing certain species of fish to be harvested from infested waters and used as bait under certain circumstances;
  • requiring anglers using portable ice-fishing shelters to remain within 200 feet of them unless they are properly marked with the owner’s identifying information; and
  • allowing the winter season for brown trout, brook trout, rainbow trout and splake to begin on Jan. 1 for lakes located entirely within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

Hunting:

The following provisions are included:

  • providing additional options for bear hunters to leave their portable stands overnight in a wildlife management area by leaving their driver’s license number or their DNR license identification number;
  • allowing the DNR to issue replacement turkey hunting licenses, under certain circumstances, for those who wish to change permit areas and/or time periods;
  • strengthening penalties for those who take deer using bait and those who are convicted of a violation that involves taking of a trophy deer;
  • requiring nonresident 10- and 11-year-olds to pay the big game license fee;
  • clarifying restrictions on when hunters may discharge firearms within 500 feet of occupied buildings or livestock enclosures;
  • exempting hunters from blaze orange clothing requirements when hunting deer by archery in a stationary location and when hunting small game by falconry;
  • • allowing certain disabled hunters to use mounted firearms or bows and electronic or mechanical devices used to discharge them;
  • • allowing the DNR to use administrative rulemaking to determine the payment rates for control programs for coyotes, foxes and wolves;
  • eliminating a 2008 law requiring a four-week fall season for turkey in a certain permit area;
  • allowing hunters to take migratory waterfowl, coots or rails in certain open-water areas designated specifically by the DNR; and
  • restricting the use of body-gripping or conibear-type traps.

Miscellaneous:

The following provisions are included:

  • adding the recruitment of new anglers, hunters campers and other “outdoor recreation participants” to the DNR’s mission, and requiring the DNR to collect information on hunter participation and satisfaction;
  • allowing electronic transactions for game and fish licenses to continue even during a state government shutdown; and
  • requiring that when land is donated to the state via the DNR, the deed conveying the land must state whether the DNR is allowed to resell it.

Snowmobiles:

The following provisions are included:

  • exempting snowmobiles registered by tribal governments and that have not been outside of reservation boundaries for more than 30 consecutive days from DNR registration requirements;
  • requiring that at least 60 percent of the revenue collected from snowmobile registrations go toward developing and maintaining state trails; and
  • clarifying when snowmobilers are allowed to use “metal traction devices” on paved public trails.

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NickBusse's picture
Nick Busse