St. Paul – The DNR is in the process of collecting public input
and considering changes to the Zone 3 deer season this fall, but
the effort may be for naught.
Legislation that’s currently in the Senate Game and Fish bill,
for the second year in a row, would set the season by statute,
rather than by rule.
The bill would create a nine-day A season and a nine-day B
season. During the last two days of the A season, hunters would be
unable to take a buck unless it had four antler points on one side,
or they already have taken an antlerless deer.
Party hunting for antlered deer also would not be allowed during
the final two days of the A season.
The legislation is similar to the season that was in place last
year, except hunters would not necessarily have to shoot an
antlerless deer during the first part of the 3A season to satisfy
the earn-a-buck requirement of the final two days of the 3A season.
An antlerless deer taken during the archery season, for example,
would count toward the earn-a-buck.
Sen. Satveer Chaudhary, DFL-Fridley, who is carrying the bill
this year and carried it last year, said he is aware of the DNR’s
rule-making process and that it is contemplating making such
changes. He included the provision in this year’s Game and Fish
bill – SF 2900 – “to make sure that it happens for this year,”
If the legislation passes, it would be in place this fall, no
matter what the DNR does. After that, the DNR rules would be in
place “if we chose not to intervene again,” he said.
The DNR, for its part, is taking public input on potential
changes, including eliminating buck cross-tagging in Zone 3;
requiring hunters in Zone 3 to kill only bucks with four antler
points on one side; and lengthening the A season to nine days (if
the antler restriction is enacted).
In addition to the meetings it has held so far – six, as of
March 9 – the DNR also has collected input via the Internet. As of
last week, 1,200 hunters commented online, said Lou Cornicelli, DNR
big game program coordinator.
“We’ll just keep doing what we’re doing as part of our public
input process,” he said.
Said Bob Meier, DNR assistant commissioner: “We would rather use
the survey results we had, and the stakeholder input, and do those
changes by rule rather than by statute.”
The Game and Fish bill also includes other provisions, like:
€ Deer could be quartered at the kill site, so long as the head
or genitalia is attached to one of the quarters. The head must be
attached to one of the quarters if the deer has antlers.
€ From Sept. 1 to Dec. 31, people would not be able to feed deer
on a recreational basis. Restricted items would include grains,
fruits, vegetables, nuts, hay, prepared wildlife food products, or
other food that is capable of attracting wildlife. There are a
number of exceptions, including for trappers, bear hunters, and
bird feeders within 50 feet of a building.
€ Hunters would not be able to hunt big game from a stand that
is higher than 16 feet above the ground. The provision would not
apply to portable stands.
€ Hunters near a motor vehicle could not shoot at a grouse
unless the hunters are at least 20 yards from the vehicle, and the
vehicle is shut off.
€ The duck season could begin earlier, as the bill would remove
the language mandating that it not open before the Saturday closest
to Oct. 1. This year, for example, the season could open Sept. 25
instead of Oct. 2.
€ Chaudhary has introduced his bill to increase the cost of
fishing licenses in the state. SF 3044, which was to be heard on
Wednesday, would increase the cost of resident angling and spearing
licenses from $17 to $21. The cost would rise to $25 in 2015.
The bill also increases from $1 to $2 the issuing fee that
anglers pay when they buy their license.
The bill would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to fish without a
license. It also directs 10 percent of the additional revenue to
Chaudhary said people want to know what the increase will be
The DNR has not supported the fee increase, nor did the agency
propose it. However, it would “maintain our current level of
service for the near future,” said Dirk Peterson, DNR_Fisheries
It would not restore any of the about 30 vacant positions there
currently are in Fisheries, he said.
Maintaining flexibility in how the funds would be used, rather
than earmarking them for specific purposes, would be most helpful,
“When you are providing fish management programs, you want to
maintain some flexibility in how you deliver those programs,” he
said. “We would like to maintain as much flexibility as we can with
the funding we receive.”
€ HF 3230 and SF 2890, authored by Rep. David Dill, DFL-Crane
Lake, and Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, would prohibit the construction
of public accesses on lakes currently without a public access until
July 1, 2015.
The effort is an attempt to halt the spread of invasive species,
“Realistically, invasive species can come from docks being put
in and out, people putting their own boats in there…” he said.
“It’s really not a cure to protect a lake.”
€ HF 3355, authored by Rep. Karla Bigham, DFL-Cottage Grove,
would require boaters to drain bait containers, livewells, bilges,
and other equipment – excluding marine sanitary systems – before
venturing onto public roads.
€ Dill has introduced HF 3325, which would require bear hunters
who draw a license to purchase it by Aug. 1. Any license not
purchased would be available the following day on a first-come,