Outdoor casualties of a state government shutdown
the other day to renew my license plate tabs. This was after the
state government shutdown. Ahead of me in line was a woman who had
tried in vain to buy a fishing license at a retail store and then a
bait shop. She was certain if she found an open government center
she could get a license.
As long as state government remains shuttered, you can’t buy a
fishing license, hunting license, or other license or permit you
need before heading afield.
Based on conversations with state conservation officers – 186 of
them remain on the job – there are lots of people who didn’t buy a
fishing license before the shutdown began July 1. COs are obligated
to enforce state law, which requires that anglers have a fishing
license, but they also can use their discretion about whether to
issue tickets or warnings. Sounds like most are opting for the
But it’s a safe bet that a lot of people already have fishing
licenses, given we’re past the spring crappie bonanza, and openers
for walleye, bass, and muskie fishing.
My guess is a lot of people – me included – haven’t bought the
necessary stamps and licenses to hunt waterfowl, pheasants, bears,
and deer (some of the licenses aren’t even available yet).
So the pain to sportsmen – especially those of us who hunt – may
not really be felt for another month or two. If the shutdown
persists into those seasons – and there are few signs right now
that an end is in sight – we wouldn’t be able to buy the licenses
we need to participate. And that’s assuming that seasons even would
In an interview with Outdoor News’ Tim Spielman on July 12,
DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr – himself one of the more than 20,000
idled state employees – said officials are discussing what may or
may not occur as it relates to this year’s waterfowl season in
It’s hard to imagine a Minnesota fall without hunting, but if
there’s nobody to set the seasons and sell the licenses, how the
heck do you hold a hunt?
If the shutdown persists, stay tuned for more on this topic.