St. Paul – The DNR wants to make it illegal for people to feed
wildlife recreationally from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31 each year. It also
wants to increase the penalties for hunters caught hunting over
Both proposals, which the DNR expects will be introduced at the
Legislature later this week, are aimed to reduce the amount of
illegal deer baiting. Last year, conservation officers wrote 152
citations for hunting over bait and seized 93 weapons. There was a
total of 799 baiting complaints, said Maj. Rod Smith, operations
manager for the DNR_Enforcement Division.
The feeding ban “closes all of the potential loopholes in the
baiting law,” he said. “It will be easily understandable for
Hunters caught hunting over bait also could lose all of their
deer licenses. Upon conviction, a hunter’s big-game hunting
privileges would be revoked for a year. A second violation in a
three-year period would result in a three-year revocation, Smith
“We think the revocation would be more of a deterrent,” he
There has been a wildlife feeding ban in the northwest part of
the state as part of an effort to prevent the spread of bovine
tuberculosis. The ban has been successful in the northwest, and the
statewide ban would be similar to it, Smith said.
The statewide ban would include a few exceptions: normal
agricultural practices; bird feeders designed to attract non-game
birds, within 50 feet of a building; and liquid scents, salts, and
Additionally, licensed trappers could use bait, and bear bait at
a registered bait site, placed by a licensed bear hunter or
outfitter, would be allowed.
In addition to closing baiting law loopholes, DNR officials say
the ban would address health concerns by reducing artificial
concentrations of deer, and reduce the number of car-vehicle
It’s unclear how lawmakers will receive the measures, said Bob
Meier, DNR assistant commissioner. Some lawmakers, he said, want to
legalize baiting for deer.
The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association is on board with the
feeding ban, said Mark Johnson, MDHA executive director.
“By putting in a seasonal feeding ban, there would be no
(question) whether it is legal feeding or illegal baiting – it
would just be cut and dried,” he said.
The Fish and Wildlife Division also supports it, said Ed
Boggess, division deputy director.
Aside from what the DNR is proposing, MDHA also wants to attack
the problem of what it says is “increased antler poaching in recent
years,” Johnson said.
Now the fine for poaching a deer is $500, and the per-deer
restitution is $500. The restitution for trophy deer – those with
racks larger than 135 inches – is $1,000, Johnson said.
MDHA will propose defining a trophy buck as one with 100-inch
antlers or larger. It also wants to increase the restitution value
of a trophy deer to $1,001, which would make it a gross misdemeanor
and allow officers to immediately seize the license of the
Additionally, the group wants a graduated scale for restitution.
While a 100-inch trophy would carry a $1,001 restitution, a
200-inch buck would have a $25,000 restitution, Johnson said.
“($25,000) is not anywhere near what (deer antlers) are worth at
the top end, but at least it’s getting us a bit closer than
$1,000,” Johnson said.