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Minnesota Legislature

Decoy rules adjusted

Published (3/6/2009)
By Sue Hegarty
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Waterfowl hunters may be able to put decoys in public waters or on public land earlier than usual, but they’d have to watch over them constantly, according to provisions approved March 2 by the House Game, Fish and Forestry Division.

Current law allows decoy placement one hour prior to the start of shooting times. HF709, sponsored by Rep. Mike Nelson (DFL-Brooklyn Park), would let decoys be placed earlier, but a licensed waterfowl hunter would have to keep watch over them.

A second provision would make changes for private landowners.

Current law prohibits hunters from leaving decoys unattended longer than four hours during or after the hunt, unless a hunter is in waters adjacent to their private property. If there isn’t sufficient vegetation in the water to partially conceal the hunter, they can leave the decoys in the water beyond four hours.

Anoka resident Jeff Weaver recommended dropping that exception for private landowners because, in his opinion, it gives them an unfair advantage. Weaver said some waterfront owners string upwards of 200 decoys in the water and leave them there throughout the hunting season.

Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Good Thunder) supports repealing that portion of the statute.

Department of Natural Resources Enforcement Chief Jim Conrad said a possible repeal would not cause enforcement problems, although it might irritate the private landowners who hunt along their own shorelines.

Conrad agreed to work on refining the bill with Nelson prior its possible inclusion in the division’s omnibus bill. It has no Senate companion.

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