Friday, February 3rd, 2023
Friday, February 3rd, 2023

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Motorized decoy ban passes in the House

Staff Writer

St. Paul Motorized decoys would be illegal for Minnesota duck
hunters next season under a provision in an expansive fish and game
bill that passed out of the House last week.

Hunters still could use non-motorized spinning or flapping-wing
decoys to attract waterfowl to their decoy spreads.

The Senate version of the bill, awaiting hearing in the Senate
Finance Committee, also limits use of motorized decoys. In that
version, such decoys would be prohibited during the early part of
the season, and for the entire season on water bodies and lands in
wildlife management areas.

The Senate Finance Committee is expected to take up the omnibus
game and fish bill after it’s done with finance bills. Once out of
Finance, it will be heard on the floor, said Bob Meier, director of
legislative affairs for the DNR.

Though neither game and fish bill is the same as it was when
initially presented, the DNR is mostly supportive of them.

“We support the vast majority of what’s in there,” said Ed
Boggess, DNR Fish and Wildlife Policy Section chief.

Among the provisions that passed out of the House:

Special permits could be issued to take protected wild animals
that are damaging property, or to remove or destroy their dens,
nests, houses, or dams.

A person under 12 could hunt turkeys if accompanied by a parent
or guardian who is within arm’s reach.

The fee for a resident license to guide bear hunters would be
$82.50.

A person may not train hunting dogs on public land between April
16 and July 14.

A person born after Dec. 31, 1989 who previously has not had a
trappers license would have to complete a trappers education
program before purchasing a license.

Any unoccupied permanent stand or blind on public land is public
and not the property of the person who constructed it. Permanent
stands and blinds can’t have a permanent roof or permanent
walls.

The pheasant season, by rule of the DNR commissioner, can be
open between Sept. 16 and Jan. 3.

The regular duck season may not open before the Saturday closest
to Oct. 1.

Decoys cannot be left unattended on public waters for more than
two consecutive hours unless the decoys are in waters adjacent to
private land in control of the hunter; and there is not natural
vegetation growing in the water sufficient to partially conceal a
hunter.

The open season to take walleyes, northern pike, muskies, large
and smallmouth bass lasts until the last Sunday in February.

Anglers can take no more than one walleye over 20 inches and one
northern pike over 30 inches each day.

Though a bill to abolish the state’s new mourning dove hunting
season was introduced in the House early in the session, there
wasn’t an attempt on the House floor to pass such an amendment.

The DNR and many dove hunters expected some debate about the
season.

“We anticipated there would be some reaction to doves, and we
were prepared for it,” Meier said.

ATV legislation

A proposal championed by off-highway vehicle proponents to
create a program similar to one in Wisconsin under which ATV clubs
would be given grant money for education and trail monitoring was
voted out of a large Senate environment bill Monday. It was removed
from the bill on a 32-31 vote.

The idea is still alive in a House environment bill.

Under the provision, groups like the All-Terrain Vehicle
Association of Minnesota would be given $200,000 per year for
education and monitoring.

“From our environmental perspective, why give money to some
clubs that don’t have the authority” to write tickets and hand out
citations, said Anne Hunt, environmental program coordinator for
the Minnesota Environmental Partnership. “The money is better left
in the DNR’s Enforcement Division.”

The House bill, awaiting hearing in the Ways and Means
Committee, contains a number of ATV-related issues. Among them, it
would open segments of the North Shore Trail, and state lands north
of U.S Highway 2 would maintain their present classification, which
environmentalists say would harm the environment by allowing ATV
riders access to about 74 percent of state forest land.

Separately, a plan proposed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty to replace the
Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources with an 11-member
citizens commission also was dropped from the Senate environmental
spending bill.

The proposal was scheduled to be heard in the House Ways and
Means Committee Tuesday.

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