Wednesday, February 1st, 2023
Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

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DNR gives thumbs-up to CWD bill

Amendment to kill dove hunting fails on House floor

By Tim Spielman

Associate Editor

St. Paul Legislation created to battle chronic wasting disease
in Minnesota’s deer and elk is now to the liking of DNR officials,
they say.

“We hope it passes in its current form,” Mike DonCarlos, DNR
Wildlife research leader, said Monday.

The bill was altered last week to remove some of the financial
burden of CWD monitoring from those who produce elk and deer on
farms in the state. Elk from two farms in the state have tested
positive for the fatal brain disease.

Under the latest plan, elk and deer producers would pay up to
$60,000 annually for the registration and monitoring program which
would become mandatory under the legislation. That funding would be
generated by a $10 per animal, up to a $100 maximum fee per
producer. That’s down from an earlier proposed base of $200 and an
additional cost of $4 per animal. The new plan is more in line with
the cost in other states, officials say.

The new proposal came about after a meeting of officials from
the state Board of Animal Health, the DNR, and elk and deer farmers
in the state to determine producers’ contribution to a CWD
monitoring program.

Under the legislation, registration and monitoring of farmed
cervidae in the state would be mandatory. The BAH would inherit
oversight of more than 400 “game farms” now under the jurisdiction
of the DNR. Under a proposal from Gov. Tim Pawlenty, the BAH will
receive $400,000 (in addition to the $60,000 in the legislation),
to administer the CWD program on state cervid farms. That funding
would come from state lottery “in-lieu” proceeds.

Malissa Fritz, communications coordinator for the BAH, said
$600,000 would have enabled the agency to add seven new people four
ag specialists, two clerical staffers, and one veterinarian
purchase equipment, and pay for added travel expenses.

“Now (with the decrease from $200,000 to $60,000), there will be
fewer people to get the work done, but we’ll get it done,” she
said.

On farms, the CWD legislation also addresses fencing
requirements and movement of farmed animals across state lines.

For hunters, the bill means a number of things.

It could lead to feeding restrictions in the state if the DNR
deems that necessary to combat a CWD outbreak;

It puts restrictions on the manner in which hunters can return
harvested animals from other states: ie, mounts must be attached to
skullcaps that are clean of brain tissue and whole carcasses cannot
be returned unless in the form of cut and wrapped meat without the
spinal column or head attached;

An existing surcharge on deer hunting licenses can be used for
emergency deer feeding and animal health management;

Emergency culling of deer by non-standard means or times could
be allowed to slow the spread of disease.

Portions of the CWD bill are in both the ag omnibus bill and
environmental omnibus bill, both awaiting floor action in the House
and Senate.

Dove bill wins in House

Rep. Joe Hoppe, R-Chaska, told Outdoor News late on Tuesday he
expected a dove hunting bill to be approved by the state House. The
dove hunting bill, part of a larger environment finance bill, faced
a challenge in the House when an amendment attempted to strike the
hunt language.

That amendment was defeated, Hoppe said, and he expected the
hunt to remain in the bill.

“It looks to be in pretty good shape right now,” Hoppe said.
“But the big challenge will be in the Senate.”

The bill also contained language requiring a $7.50 dove stamp,
and increased duck and pheasant habitat stamps in Minnesota from $5
to $7.50, each.

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