Minnesota Governor Dayton signs conservation, environment bills into law

St. Paul — Hunters and anglers will pay more for their licenses, wolves will be fair game, and all boaters will have to complete mandatory online aquatic invasive species training under legislation Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law last week.

While lawmakers still were hashing out bills earlier this week – a Vikings stadium and bonding bill, among them – most of the legislation outdoors advocates have been watching is now in the books.

The fishing and hunting license fee increase was one of the key pieces of legislation and DNR officials say it will keep the state Game and Fish Fund solvent.

While most hunters and anglers will feel the increases, which kick in next March, some will not. Sixteen- and 17-year-olds, for example, will have to pay $5 for most licenses.

The fees will generate about $5 million in the next fiscal year, and about $10 million in the years after that.

The DNR will determine how it plans to use the additional revenue in coming months. Those proposals will be part of its 2013 budget request to the Legislature.

Among the other laws that will go into effect as a result of legislation passed this session:

  • Wolf hunting this fall. Residents will pay $30 for hunting and trapping licenses; nonresidents will pay $250 for hunting licenses. The quota will be 400 wolves and the first season will begin the same day as the firearms deer season.
    The DNR will unveil its specific hunt plans in coming weeks. Those likely will include standalone wolf hunting and trapping season that runs Nov. 24 through Jan. 5, 2013.
  • A prairie and grassland public grazing program. Under the program, the DNR will enter into agreements with livestock owners to graze grasslands and prairies the agency owns. The goal of the program is to be financially self-sufficient; revenue will go to the Game and Fish Fund.
  • Provided they meet certain conditions, hook-and-line anglers will be able to harvest from infested waters bullheads, goldeyes, mooneyes, sheepshead, and suckers for “noncommercial personal use. Fish removed must be used in the same body of water and must not be moved live from the water body,” according to the DNR.
  • Hunting and fishing licenses will be available electronically, even in the event of a shutdown of state government.
  • Publicly funded or managed shooting ranges in the seven-county metro area, with some exceptions, will have to be open twice during the spring and twice during the summer for firearms safety training.
  • The walk-in hunter access program will be funded via a $616,000 transfer from the venison-donation account; a $5 surcharge on nonresident hunting licenses; and voluntary donations from hunters buying deer and small-game licenses. The venison-donation program remains in existence and will be funded through the surcharge on bonus deer licenses.
  • Increased penalties for hunters convicted of baiting deer.
  • Hunters will be able to use remote-controlled motorized decoys when hunting waterfowl and doves.
  • Hunters will be able to take waterfowl in open water in designated areas, such as large lakes and border waters.
  • Trappers won’t be able to use 220 Conibears on public land and waters unless the trap is recessed at least seven inches from the top and front of the enclosure, there are no attractants within 20 feet of the enclosure, and the trap is at least three feet above the ground.
  • Attended portable ice-fishing shelters do not need identification.
  • The winter season for all trout species in lakes entirely within the Boundary Waters is Jan. 1 through March 31. For lakes partially within or outside the BWCA, the season is Jan. 15 through March 31.
  • Establishes a $500 restitution value for wolves.
  • With the exception of revenues from small-game license surcharges and hunting and fishing stamps, revenue from the sale of game and fish licenses cannot be used to buy land or easements.
  • As of July 1, 2013, live minnows used to feed hatchery fish must be obtained within the state. Dead minnows still could be imported from other states. The legislation also requires the DNR, by Feb. 15, 2013, to consult with the aquaculture industry and others “on the risks of introducing invasive carp species through transportation of fish between water bodies with recommendations on necessary changes in statutes, rules, or permitting procedures,” according to the DNR.
  • A new Aquatic Invasive Species Cooperative Research Center will be built at the University of Minnesota.
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