St. Paul – Duck hunters could put their decoys in public waters
or on public lands at any time of day or night as long as they stay
in “constant attendance of the decoys,” under a bill introduced
last week in the Legislature.
The current law, which has been in effect since just after World
War II, prohibits putting decoys out more than one hour before
Rep. Michael Nelson, DFL-Brooklyn Park, said his bill, HF 709,
isn’t meant to allow hunters to pre-empt hunting spots, but to let
people put out decoys in a spot they’re going to sit anyway. That
way, he said, they don’t have to scramble to set them up just
before shooting hours.
When the law was passed in the 1940s, it was out of “concern
about pre-emption of hunting spots,” said Ed Boggess, deputy
director of the DNR’s Fish and Wildlife Division.
The law was amended in 2005 to make it unlawful for hunters to
leave decoys unattended for more than four consecutive hours during
Nelson said a couple of his friends who duck hunt asked him to
introduce the bill. Those friends hunt in places where they have to
arrive very early to ensure they get a spot. He said he understands
concern over pre-emption, but “if you are going out there and
sitting there, you already have the spot.”
DNR Assistant Commissioner Bob Meier said he hadn’t talked to
the agency’s waterfowl staff about the bill, but said it has the
potential for “usurping that first-come, first-served right that we
He also wondered what “constant attendance” meant.
“You have a cabin, for example, and throw out decoys in front of
your cabin. If you are there all weekend, is that constant
attendance?” Meier said.
Nelson’s bill, which has no Senate companion, was referred to
the Game, Fish and Forestry Division. He said he’s asked for a
hearing, but hasn’t heard whether the bill will get one or not.
The House Game, Fish and Forestry Division on Monday approved a
bill, HF 128, to allow hunters to have uncased, unloaded firearms
in their vehicles. The version the committee approved is different
from the original bill.
Meier said that while the bill is “watered down” from when it
was introduced, the DNR still has concerns about it.
The bill, which has no Senate companion, will be heard next in
the Environment Policy and Oversight Committee.
Heritage Council funding
The House Environment and Natural Resources Finance Division has
approved a bill to provide operating expenses to the Lessard
Outdoor Heritage Council.
Under the bill, HF 18, authored by Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South
St. Paul, a $150,000 loan – to be repaid when sales tax dollars
begin coming in later this summer – from the Natural Resources Fund
would be used to reimburse the DNR for some administrative
expenses; for office expenses; and for per diem, mileage, and
lodging expenses of council members.
The money only would be available until July 1, 2009, and
reimbursed expenses would have to be detailed on the council’s web
site. Following passage, the bill was sent to the Cultural and
Outdoor Resources Finance Division.
While the primary concern of the DNR and many lawmakers this
session is the state budget, the agency has some policy bills that
are expected to be introduced this week. Among the provisions:
€ Language to prohibit the transport of live coyotes. “It’s an
issue that we’ve seen come up where people have been trapping
coyotes and sending them out of state,” Meier said.
€ Preventing local units of government from passing ordinances
that prohibit hunting on wildlife management areas that are 160
contiguous acres or larger. And on contiguous WMAs smaller than
that, they couldn’t prohibit trapping or bird hunting with fine
shot, for example.
€ A move-over provision on the water that would mandate a
150-foot no-wake zone around a water patrol officer who has a boat
SF 607, authored by Sen. Ellen Anderson, DFL-St. Paul, contains
about $26 million in spending from the Environment and Natural
Resources Trust Fund, the Great Lakes Protection Account, and the
State Land and Water Conservation Account. Some of what the bill
calls for spending includes:
€ $3.375 million for the sixth phase of the Minnesota Habitat
€ $3.375 million for the fifth phase of Metro Conservation
€ $1 million for the Minnesota Farm Bill Assistance Project.
€ $825,000 for habitat research in deep lakes.