Pheasant bag hike a top topic for DNR meetings

By Tim
Spielman

Associate Editor

St. Paul – The DNR began hosting a series of meetings across the
state this week where department officials will have opportunities
to discuss with hunters and trappers a slew of topics, including a
possible bag increase for pheasant hunters, additional restrictions
for Conibear trap users, and new draw-weight requirements for
bowhunters.

The DNR is distributing handouts at the meetings in order to
gauge opinion on these subjects, and others, according to Ed
Boggess, DNR Fish and Wildlife Division deputy director.

Boggess said none of the items to be discussed include actual
DNR proposals, but could, in the future, help guide DNR
decisions.

The pheasant bag limit discussion is in part due to a
legislative mandate that requested the department look into
increasing the bag limit to three birds daily, after the first 16
days of the season. In return, the DNR examined the bag limit
increases – either daily or possession – in a report that looked at
biological and social aspects of such an increase.

Boggess said the report explored the roots of pheasant hunting
in Minnesota. Currently, state statute allows for a limit of up to
five birds. But the daily limit has held steady at two since 1963.
More recently, the possession limit was increased to six.

The report said there is ‘no biological reason’ not to increase
the daily bag to three, Boggess said.

‘(The daily bag) was kept at two to distribute hunters over a
longer amount of time,’ he said. ‘It was more a social factor than
biological.’

An informal survey of participants at Pheasants Forever’s state
convention found that some pheasant hunters might want to keep the
daily limit as-is. About 80 percent said they’d prefer the daily
limit at two birds. But nearly all of those asked said they’d
support increasing the possession limit – possibly to 10 birds
(five times the daily limit).

Conibears

Boggess said the discussion about Conibear traps was triggered
by calls to the DNR about dogs getting caught and dying in the
traps.

‘We don’t have a proposal, but we’re aware of more incidences of
hunting dogs being killed in Conibear traps,’ he said.

There are a number of reasons for the increase, he said,
including more trappers afield due to higher fur prices. Further,
more inexperienced trappers might be setting traps.

Currently, Boggess said, there’s a 7-inch maximum width for
Conibears used on dry land.

Size restrictions and means to prevent dogs from entering
Conibears are open for discussion at the meetings. Conibears are
used primarily for species like raccoons and fishers, Boggess
said.

Experienced trappers are aware of ways the traps can be set that
make them to a greater degree ‘dog-proof.’

They can be set in boxes, they could be elevated and hung
vertically, or the opening size restriction could be lowered.

Draw weight for bows

Currently, the minimum draw weight for bowhunting in Minnesota
is 40 pounds. The DNR is considering whether a decrease would allow
more women and youth to take up the sport, yet retain the weapon’s
ability to kill deer.

Boggess said bow manufacturers have contacted the department,
and stated that new compound bows can efficiently kill deer at
lower draw weights.

Boggess said the department might consider lowering the draw
weight restriction to 30 pounds.

Also on the agenda will be discussion about deer hunting. The
DNR is preparing to convene a deer season structure, regulations,
licensing, and registration simplification task force that likely
will recommend significant changes to deer zone and licensing
options. The task force is advisory, and will be made up of
interested citizens, not DNR employees.

Three meetings were held in February. (The DNR announced the
meeting schedule last week, after Outdoor News’ press time.) The
remaining March meetings include:

March 1, St. Paul, DNR/PCA cafeteria, 500 Lafayette Road;

March 6, Rochester, People’s Co-op;

March 8, Little Falls, Morrison County Courthouse;

March 13, Slayton, Murray County Central High School;

March 14, Austin, J.C. Hormel Nature Center.

Written comments may also be mailed to: Season Comments, DNR
Section of Wildlife, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4007.
February meetings were held in Detroit Lakes, Glenwood, and
Brainerd.

Categories: Hunting News

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