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At Issue: Hunting and fishing galore

Published (3/14/2008)
By Nick Busse
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Several provisions in this year

Hunters, anglers and Department of Natural Resources employees take note: the 2008 omnibus game and fish bill has arrived.

HF3547, sponsored by Rep. David Dill (DFL-Crane Lake), represents the work of the House Game, Fish and Forestry Division, which Dill chairs. The bill is loaded with dozens of proposed changes to the state’s hunting and fishing laws, most of which were adopted from smaller policy bills heard by the division. It has no Senate companion.

During a March 6 meeting of the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee, Dill wasted no words in summarizing the bill.

“There’s a lot of provisions in there,” he said.

One of the more controversial measures would allow residents as young as 10 years old to hunt big game without a firearms safety certificate if accompanied by a parent or guardian who remains within arm’s reach. Rep. Jean Wagenius (DFL-Mpls) said she is uncomfortable with the idea of not requiring children that young to complete some kind of firearms safety training before they go hunting.

Dill responded that the idea is to help reinvigorate the state’s dwindling numbers of hunting participants by getting more young people out in the deer stand.

Rep. Denny McNamara (R-Hastings) agreed, arguing that competency with firearms wasn’t the point.

“It’s a very good experience and it’ll introduce youngsters to the big game experience. And they may not even actually pull the trigger. I don’t think that’s the important thing,” McNamara said.

What follows is a selected summary of the bill’s provisions, broken down by category. The bill now awaits action by the House Governmental Operations, Reform, Technology and Elections Committee.


• creating a “conservation angling license” that would cost two-thirds the price of a regular license, allow license-holders to take up to one-half of the normal fish possession limits, and be valid for 14 consecutive days;

• allowing anglers to fish with two lines simultaneously;

• expanding the open season for spear fishing through the ice by leaving open the season’s opening date; and

• numerous provisions clarifying that statutes applying to ice houses also apply to various kinds of portable shelters used for ice fishing.


• provisions eliminating the minimum age requirements for hunting moose, elk and prairie chicken;

• requiring residents under age 16 to obtain a license to hunt big or small game, but waving the fee;

• allowing residents ages 10 and 11 to hunt big game provided that they are within immediate reach of a parent or guardian;

• loosening firearm safety requirements for residents under age 16;

• creating a $52 all-firearm season deer hunting license allowing hunters to take two deer, only one of which may be a buck;

• establishing a $165 master bear hunting outfitter license that allows one person under the license to serve as the outfitter and another to guide and bait bear;

• allowing youth who will turn 12 years old within the calendar year to obtain a license to hunt big game;

• allowing the use of crossbows to hunt bear and turkey during their respective firearms seasons;

• allowing bow hunters to possess a firearm while hunting big game other than deer;

• allowing bear hunting permit applicants to apply for more than one permit area at a time by ranking their choices;

• limiting the time period in which raccoons may be hunted to between one half-hour after sunset to one half-hour before sunrise;

• requiring the DNR to submit a report to the Legislature by Jan. 1, 2009, evaluating the effectiveness and necessity of the state’s uncased firearms laws; and

• increasing the cock pheasant bag limit to three per day after the 16th day of the pheasant season (a similar measure was included in last year’s game and fish bill but was removed in a conference committee).

Aquaculture and miscellaneous

• requiring the DNR to file biannual reports to the Legislature on proposed fee changes that would make the department’s aquaculture licensing program self-sustaining;

• asking the DNR to encourage fish farming in man-made ponds rather than natural public waters;

• prohibiting the DNR from issuing or renewing a license to raise minnows in waters subject to protective easements funded by state or federal waterfowl stamp proceeds;

• allowing those authorized to sell various DNR-issued licenses to charge a fee of up to $3.50 for electronic licensing transactions; and

• removing a requirement for those riding horses on horse trails to visibly display their trail passes.

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