Wednesday, February 8th, 2023
Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Dove bill to reappear

DNR pulls deer stand language

By Tim Spielman

Associate Editor

St. Paul Proponents of a dove hunt in Minnesota are gearing up
for another legislative battle this session, as they attempt to
bring sportsmen the first mourning dove hunting season since the
1940s.

“We’re going to get this thing through this session,” said Kevin
Ausland, chair of the Dove Sportsmen Society, an offshoot of Quail
Unlimited. “We feel really optimistic.”

During last year’s session, the movement to create a dove hunt
was derailed in conference committee. Members of the conference
committee said they wouldn’t vote for a dove hunt, as dove hunting
language hadn’t been approved by the Senate, which only had
approved language creating a dove stamp.

Like last year, dove hunt backers already have the support of
the state DNR, which has said there’s no biological reason not to
hunt doves, a popular game species across the U.S., including
Wisconsin. Proponents say the DNR could gain additional license
revenue as well as recruit more hunters into the sport.

Mike Sidders is working with the task force, “Hunters for a
Minnesota Dove Season,” part of the Minnesota Wildlife Heritage
Foundation, to promote a dove hunting season in the state.

“Our group is trying to do what we can do behind the scenes to
get this thing through,” he said. “We’re contacting key legislators
who we think can be swayed.”

Sidders is concerned the push for a dedicated natural resources
funding source may overshadow the dove hunting bill this
session.

While dove hunting has the support of the DNR, Sidders said that
anti-hunting groups have been active in Minnesota and other states
where dove hunting has been proposed. Opponents to a dove hunt in
Wisconsin were able to delay the season there for a year by legal
maneuvering.

“Anti involvement is an obstacle,” he said. “They were very
active last year, and we fought a losing battle from a public
relations perspective.”

Many of the groups are well-organized and well-funded, Sidders
said, making it important for Minnesota sportsmen to contact their
legislators.

“This is one of the best ways to introduce kids to hunting,”
Sidders said. “The weather is usually good, kids don’t have to sit
still, and there’s plenty of action.”

On Feb. 11, Hunters for a Minnesota Dove Season will host a
public meeting on the issue at the Edina Community Center, at 7
p.m., Ausland said.

Nationwide, about 1.3 million hunters pursue doves, according to
Quail Unlimited. In Minnesota, the dove population is about 12
million to 15 million annually.

In Wisconsin, about 8 percent of small game license holders took
part in the first modern-era dove hunt in the state this fall. The
Wisconsin DNR estimates about 24,400 hunters harvested about
202,000 doves. In a survey of those hunters, about half said their
satisfaction with the hunt was higher than anticipated.

Since the mourning dove is a migratory bird, the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service sets parameters for hunting them.

Michigan’s Legislature is considering a future dove hunt there.
A Senate committee was due to vote Feb. 5 on the issue.

DNR drops push for deer stand rules for state forest

Citing a multitude of opinions regarding deer stands on DNR
Forestry-administered lands in the state, the DNR has decided not
to pursue legislation banning permanent stands from those
areas.

Several user groups voiced their concerns regarding the proposal
at the DNR roundtable event held recently in St. Cloud.

“We brought the issue up at the roundtable, and there was a real
diversity of opinion about what to do next,” said Brad Moore, DNR
operations manager. He said following the current legislative
session, the department would convene a task force to “hammer it
out with constituents.”

While several issues regarding deer stands drew differing
sentiments, there was agreement that there should at least be
restrictions on the kinds of permanent stands allowed on state
forests, Moore said.

Pre-emption of public lands by treestand builders remains a top
issue to resolve, Moore added. “It’s one of the most difficult
issues,” he said.

The issue of deer stand height also will be addressed, Moore
said.

DNR concerns surrounding treestands on state forest included
things such as illegal cutting of trees for shooting lanes, and the
proliferation of illegal ATV use in the state forests by hunters
coming and going from treestands.

Though membership was divided on the issue, the Minnesota Deer
Hunters Association opposed the treestand restrictions, said Mark
Johnson, executive director of the MDHA.

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