Zone 3 deer regs under fire

However you feel about the deer regulations in Zone 3 –
antler-point restrictions and no cross-tagging of bucks – this much
is clear: It was no secret what was happening.

In Outdoor News and elsewhere, the five-year project,
and the surveys of thousands of hunters, was reported ad nauseum.
DNR officials were quoted constantly about what was going on, and
what might happen in the future.

At one point, they were accused of moving too slow, and there was
misguided legislation, which passed, that resulted in special
regulations in the southeast in 2009, a year before the agency was
ready to roll them out.

So last fall – to the surprise of absolutely nobody – the new
special regulations were put in place. Adult hunters couldn’t shoot
bucks unless they had at least four antler points on one side.
Nobody could shoot a buck for someone else. The DNR’s plan: Keep
the regulations in place for three years and then re-evaluate
them.

Not all hunters liked the plan. And not all hunters disliked it,
either.

The regulations resulted in a 30-percent drop on the buck harvest
last fall. DNR officials say – based on what’s happened in other
states that have used the regulations – this season will be
different in Zone 3. All those deer people saw but couldn’t shoot
last year? Guess what: They are a year older and you can blast away
at them this year.

But now here we are, several months removed from the end of the
season, and the state House of Representatives includes in its Game
and Fish Bill a provision to repeal all of the special regulations
in Zone 3. It can’t be surprising because it’s far too
predictable.

It’s disappointing, too.

It was a bad move when then-Sen. Satveer Chaudhary, a DFLer from
Fridley, tired of all the study and launched a terribly muddled
version of the special regulations in the southeast. And it’s a bad
move now that Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, is trying to undo
the regulations. Someone called it bipartisan stupidity, and that
person was absolutely right.

Why undo the regulations? Drazkowski says the “vast majority” of
people in his district are opposed to them. And he’s received calls
from people who say if the regulations are in place next fall,
they’ll quit hunting. Drazkowski says he’s simply doing what his
constituents are asking him to do, and I’m sure he feels good about
the fact the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association has thrown its
support – for this measure, anyway – to him.

But it’s the wrong thing for Drazkowski to do, and it’s the wrong
thing for MDHA to support.

This isn’t a case of government overreach – you could argue it’s
legislative overreach – or of government pushing a regulation down
people’s throats. Even if you don’t like these – and I’m not
certain I’d be thrilled if I hunted in Zone 3 – the road to
implementing them has been about as all-encompassing as you can
imagine. It wasn’t a plan hatched in the dark of night. It was
slowly and steadily unwrapped in front of everyone’s eyes.

 

Categories: Joe Albert

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