Upcoming session to debate wolf hunt

St. Paul – From fishing and hunting license fees, to a
wolf-hunting season, to consternation about the number of deer in
the state, lawmakers have a lot on their plates when the
legislative session kicks off next Tuesday.

Some bills are leftovers from last session.

Others – like one that creates some parameters around a state wolf
hunt, and another that would relax deer-baiting regulations for
hunters 65 years and older  – are new to the hopper.

Among the other topics likely to be addressed during the
session:

• Invasive species in general, and Asian carp in particular.

Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, chairs the Environment, Energy and
Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee. He’s co-authoring a
bill that would use money from the Outdoor Heritage Fund to install
electric fish barriers at Lock and Dam 1 and 2, and St. Anthony
Falls.

The bill doesn’t specify how much would be spent, but McNamara
noted the $3 million the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council has
tabbed for Asian carp probably won’t cut it.

Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, chair of the Senate
Environment and Natural Resources Committee, said funding Asian
carp research is important and noted the possibility of a research
center at the University of Minnesota.

“We don’t have $30 million to throw every year at invasive species
– the public expects us to look for a long-term resolution,” he
said. “We’re not very well prepared, but we have a great
opportunity at the University of Minnesota.”

Said Garry Leaf, of Sportsmen for Change: “Science has got to lead
on this – that’s the only hope.”

• Deer.

On the heels of what many people have called a poor deer season –
hunters killed about 192,000 deer – McNamara plans to hold a
hearing on deer and the DNR’s population goals.

He said some people – “insurance folks and such” – are happy with
low deer numbers, but that he’s heard from many people who are
concerned about them. If the Legislature directs the agency to do
anything, it would be more along the lines of telling it to
re-evaluate deer populations, rather than telling it how many
antlerless permits to give out in a certain area, for
example.

Ingebrigtsen said he expects discussion of deer hunting in Zone 3,
where antler-point restrictions have been in place for the past two
seasons.

And he wants a vote about allowing hunters to use scopes on
muzzleloaders during that season. The argument about keeping scopes
off the weapons to maintain a more traditional hunt “doesn’t cut it
with me anymore.”

“I think maybe it’s time to send that bill alone,” Ingebrigtsen
said. “Let’s have that discussion and give everyone a chance to
vote on it.”

Hunting deer over bait also is a likely topic. Rep. Tom Rukavina,
DFL-Virginia, has a bill that would create exemptions in the state
baiting law. Under his bill, “a person age 65 years or older may
hunt deer during the firearms season with the aid or use of bait or
feed. Bait or feed placed by a person under this subdivision must
be removed no less than three days before the opening of the
firearms deer season.”

• Wolf season.

Rep. David Dill, DFL-Crane Lake, has introduced the first bill that
outlines what a state wolf hunt could look like. Under his bill, a
resident wolf-hunting license would cost $38; a license for
nonresidents would be $195. A resident license to trap wolves would
be $50; a nonresident would pay $100.

The bill leaves it up to the DNR to determine how licenses would be
allocated. But it requires that the firearms wolf season open no
later than the first day of the 2012 firearms deer season. The
trapping season for wolves would begin Jan. 1, 2013.

Categories: Hunting News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *