St. Paul The Minnesota DNR is seeking legislation to place a
two-year moratorium on the use of mechanical-winged decoys and
similar devices. The ban would begin in 2002 and extend until Dec.
The agency also is initiating a study of the decoys to evaluate
the effectiveness and harvest rates on ducks, especially on
resident birds. DNR Wildlife Director Tim Bremicker says a primary
concern is whether the use of the decoys leads to increased harvest
“From anecdotal information and from studies in Missouri and
California, we know the mechanical-winged decoys are effective and
more effective than traditional means of taking, such as using
calls and decoys,” says Bremicker.
While the increased effectiveness may appeal to some hunters,
those Minnesota hunters who enjoy shooting ducks throughout a 45-
to 60- day season may face restrictions if the decoys are allowed.
In order to make up for the increased harvest, Bremicker says
waterfowl managers would have to consider lowering bag limits or
reducing season length.
Another concern for Bremicker is the issue of fair chase. He
says live decoys were outlawed more than 50 years ago because they
were considered so effective as to be an unfair advantage for
The new decoys mimic the motions of live birds. Also, the decoys
may be so effective that they diminish the chances of hunters who
are not using them.
“Hunters may be compelled to acquire a machine just to compete
with other hunters who are using them,” Bremicker said.
In 2000, the DNR estimated that about 10 percent of the state’s
duck hunters were using the device. Bremicker says it is likely
that the number of hunters using them at least doubled in 2001. He
wants to study and discuss the use of the decoys now, before they
proliferate and possibly influence the state’s seasons and bag
“Minnesota hunters have worked diligently to maintain and expand
hunting opportunities with habitat conservation,” Bremicker says.
“They have a stake in this discussion.”