Nonresidents could trap in Minnesota under new bills

St. Paul – Wolves and invasive species have been the dominant themes thus far at the Legislature, but other topics are on the table, too.

Among them:

• Allowing nonresidents of the state to trap furbearers in Minnesota.

Sen. Tom Saxhaug, DFL-Grand Rapids, and Rep. Ron Shimanski, R-Silver Lake, are carrying the bills – SF 1585 and HF 1966. State law now prevents nonresidents from trapping in Minnesota, unless they're on land they own.

Saxhaug and Shimanski's bill would allow nonresidents to trap anywhere in the state, so long as they bought a $200 license.

Shawn Johnson, Minnesota Trappers Association president, said nonresident trapping "is probably the most divisive issue with trappers in the state of Minnesota."

The group recently surveyed its members about the issue. Slightly more than half opposed allowing nonresidents to trap in the state.

"In a nutshell, the position of the MTA is that we have no position," Johnson said.

In general, he said, trappers who live on state borders or in the southern part of the state, where there is little public land, are more supportive of allowing nonresidents than are trappers in the northern part of the state, where there is far more public land.

Said Bob Meier, legislative affairs director for the DNR: "We aren't in a position to allow that until we get some better controls in place on it. The biggest concern is the pressure it would put on the furbearers."

• The DNR's draft game and fish bill, which doesn't have a bill number or authors yet, includes a number of provisions.

The bill would increase penalties on people who take trophy animals illegally. Anyone who kills a deer that scores higher than 170 would have his big-game license revoked for three years. Additionally, anyone convicted of hunting deer with the aid or use of bait wouldn't be able to buy a deer license for one year after the conviction.

The bill also attempts to clarify the state's deer-baiting law.

It also contains a number of provisions related to a wolf-hunting and trapping season in Minnesota, including a prohibition on party hunting for wolves.

The bill also outlines the ways in which trappers would be able to use snares when targeting wolves.

• Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings and chair of the House environment committee, has said he'll hear Rep. Rick Hansen's proposal to spend $25 million in bond proceeds for Reinvest in Minnesota. Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul, introduced the bill last year.

Gov. Mark Dayton didn't include RIM in his bonding proposal.

• HF 2024, authored by Rep. David Dill, DFL-Crane Lake, would use $13 million in bond proceeds to develop the Lake Vermilion and Soudan Underground Mine state parks. Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, has a companion bill (SF 1615).

• Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria and chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, has introduced SF 1632, which is the bill that carries the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council recommendations.

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