Invoking ducks to justify 220 Conibears

But protecting waterfowl not a good enough reason to extend
raccoon season

Debate over the use and placement of 220 Conibears has erupted
within the mainstream media and in the pages of Outdoor News. A
couple of writers have suggested trappers alter their methods,
especially on public land, to help avoid the bad publicity that
always ensues when a dog dies in a trap. The Minnesota Trappers
Association has been pretty clear that it’s OK with status
quo.

Though fairly small in scope, the Conibear issue comes up almost
every winter, and it’s a frustrating topic because it generates
conflict between two important groups of sportsmen: trappers and
hunting dog owners. In my opinion, we won’t see any new laws or
rules regarding 220 conibears this legislative session. This
legislature, for better or worse, has shown zero interest in bills
invoking any new regulations. One point in the recent debate sticks
in my craw; however, and I’m afraid I just can’t leave well enough
alone.

Speaking to the Star Tribune last week, Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good
Thunder, noted that hunters need the 220 because it’s an important
tool for removing raccoons. Hunters don’t want anymore raccoons on
the landscape because they eat ducks and duck nests, Cornish
said.

I completely agree.

Give raccoons credit. Like coyotes, they’ve adapted and thrived in
a human-altered landscape. Unlike free-ranging domestic cats (which
need a bounty on their heads) raccoons are a native species that
have earned their niche. But they’re tough on gamebirds and
songbirds, and incredibly prolific.

Which is why in the summer of 2005, a healthy debate erupted
between Outdoor News letters writers, me, and leadership at the
Minnesota Trappers Association over whether the state should alter
the raccoon season. At that time, you could kill raccoons
year-round, which was fine with me. The MTA, in these pages,
advocated for limiting the season for when the furs are in prime
condition, and to avoid orphaning young raccoon kits during the
summer. I guess you’d have to be pretty heartless to argue the
latter point – though I’m not sure why that reasoning doesn’t apply
to the still-continuous coyote season. (I like coyotes because
they’re tough on free-ranging domestic cats.) In 2006, the state
ignored me (!) and implemented the existing raccoon season, which
runs from Oct. 15 to March 15.

Restricting the raccoon season didn’t cause me to lose any sleep,
though it may have caused Minnesota to lose a few more ducks. No
one else cared about that much in 2005, yet now some pro-220 folks
are invoking waterfowl as a reason to maintain status quo for
existing trapping rules.

A classic line from Blazing Saddles is coming to me here: “Ducks
pawn in game of life.” Or something like that…

I have no dog in the 220 debate, so to speak, but sometimes I get
whiplash in this business.

Did you get your 2012 Minnesota or Wisconsin spring wild
turkey permit?

My print column this week contained some notes on the 2012
Minnesota turkey hunting season. If the lottery chose your name,
you should have received a postcard from the DNR confirming it by
now. If not, you can double-check via this link.

Surplus (or undersubscribed) turkey hunt licenses are available to
hunters who applied in the 2012 turkey lottery drawing but were
unsuccessful. Those surplus spring licences go on sale March 19 at
5 p.m. On Wednesday, March 21, at noon, the remaining surplus
licenses and the E to H season permits will go on sale for anyone
who does not already have a license, even if they did not apply for
the 2012 spring turkey lottery.

As of this week, the surplus spring wild turkey hunt licenses are:
501D, 399 surplus tags; 505D, 22; 506B, 15; 506D, 18; 509B, 8;
509D, 11; 510D, 125; and 512B, 4 permits.

The Minnesota DNR sent out 22,228 notification postcards last week.
That’s a great number, but lest we Minnesotans get too smug, I
received a press release from the Wisconsin DNR the same day.

“Turkey permits issued by the Department of Natural Resources
through the spring turkey preference drawing numbered 137,598 for
Wisconsin’s 2012 spring wild turkey season. The department printed
and mailed postcard notifications to successful applicants, which
should be arriving within the next few weeks.”

Further down, the release says Wisconsin will make available
234,568 permits will be available for the spring 2012 turkey
season! Man, they know how to grow wild turkeys in Wisconsin!

Hunters who do not receive a Wisconsin postcard by mid-February can
check on the status of their permit application online through this
link.

 

Categories: Rob Drieslein

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