Some high- and lowlights from the 2009 Legislative session.
• Bob Lessard’s name stayed on the Outdoor Heritage Council. The
final version adds the name of former state Sen. Dallas Sams.
That’s not inappropriate. Sams was a good senator from Staples who
worked hard on dedicated funding. He died before his time and
deserves some honors, too.
• How’d you like to be a conservation officer in southeast
Minnesota deciphering the new 3A deer season? The 3A firearms
season, which I hunt, now has an extra two days of hunting with
some strings attached, like four points or better on a side and no
party hunting for bucks. I’ve been sympathetic to efforts to kill
more does in the southeast, lower the deer population levels, and
increase the percentage of bucks in the herd. For some folks, the
DNR hasn’t moved fast enough toward those goals. For others, too
fast. Considering where we were 10 years ago, deer management in
the southeast has come a long way, and for five years the seven-day
3A season worked. At the DNR Roundtable this spring, the agency
announced that it would hold meetings and consider more aggressive
strategies to managing for an older herd and test some of the ideas
this law mandates.
Now the Legislature, led by DFLer Satveer Chaudhary, got in the
middle of it with this new law. Whenever the Capitol begins setting
seasons, the hunting regulations get complex and bizarre. As a
hunter, I really don’t care and will probably have fun with the new
structure. As an outdoors scribe monitoring the scene, I’m shaking
my head at this one and thinking, “Here we go again,” though lord
knows it will generate fun headlines, letters, and debate in this
• Reading that the new uncased gun law wouldn’t apply to
Hennepin County residents (or Ramsey or Anoka) set me off. How
could prohibiting some metro residents from following this easing
of restrictions everywhere else be constitutional? Then I learned
that it applies to all cities with 2,500 or more people. OK, so
that’s less offensive, but it boosts the confusion factor. There
are a lot of state cities with 2,500-plus people to drive through
toward hunting destinations. Bottom line, you probably should keep
your gun cased unless you’re traveling between rural hunting spots.
Waterfowlers also now can have uncased firearms in their boats.
• Prohibiting live coyote transport, creating a lifetime
spearing license, and establishing a 48-inch muskie minimum – all
no-brainer, good changes.
• The DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife saw nearly a $2 million
annual General Fund reduction – less than Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s
recommended $2.7 million cut. General Fund dollars continue to
finance some fish and wildlife management activities for now.
Unallotment could change that after July 1.
• A reader called, shocked to know why I would comment (last
week) on the political future of Gov. Pawlenty. I pointed out that
since governors appoint DNR commissioners, a governor plays an
important role in how we manage natural resources. For the record,
this scribe thinks any new governor – DFL or Republican – would be
appropriate 18 months from now. That’s not an indictment of
Pawlenty’s performance, but in my mind, DNR brass needs a good
shaking up at least every eight years. We’ll have eight years of a
Pawlenty DNR, and that’s enough. I’d say the same thing after eight
years of a DFL governor, or – gulp – an Independence Party
• Finally, unallotment beats governing via Initiative and
Referendum, a process that has prevented California’s Gov.
Schwarzenegger from balancing that state’s budget repeatedly.
California is $22 billion in the red, and past ballot initiatives
have tied the hands of its state government. I&R also has
loaded California with bizarre anti-hunting and trapping rules.