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Deer hunt changes proposed

Published (2/13/2009)
By Sue Hegarty
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A pair of bills regarding deer hunting were held over Feb. 9 for possible inclusion in the House Game, Fish and Forestry Division’s omnibus bill.

Sponsored by Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Wabasha), HF436, would require the Department of Natural Resources to extend the first of two deer hunting seasons in November from seven to nine days in Zone 3, which includes the southern portion of the Twin Cities metropolitan area and points southeast. In 2003, the DNR reduced the number of days to help increase the buck population. Now hunters want the two days reinstated so they can hunt over the course of two consecutive weekends.

Winona resident James Panek, a member of the Bluff Country chapter of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, said special interest groups pressured the DNR to reduce the number of hunting days in 2003 to five days. Even with the seven-day compromise, more than 1,000 signatures were collected from hunters wanting the DNR to reinstate the nine-day period.

Currently, the DNR commissioner determines the number of hunting days, but the bill would change that rule to actual legislation. There is no Senate companion.

The second bill held over was HF304, sponsored by Rep. Tom Hackbarth (R-Cedar), which would let service members, including National Guard members, who have returned from federal active service within the past 24 months to receive a permit to hunt does. Hackbarth said many active service members are not present to apply for a doe permit during the application period. Current law states, “The commissioner shall issue, without fee, a deer license” for returning service members.

A companion bill, SF231, sponsored by Sen. Pat Pariseau (R-Farmington), awaits action by the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

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