Hunting and angling issues front and center at Minnesota Capitol this winter

Ron HustvedtThe natural resources ought to be a priority of any Legislative Session and the one we are just embarking upon is no exception. With a DFL majority in both chambers, as well as the governor’s office, it will be interesting to see what action or inaction comes on a variety of issues.

I am a proud member of the Minnesota Deer Hunter’s Association and they send out a weekly Legislative Bulletin that is quite interesting to read. Obviously, the MDHA lobbying priority is on deer habitat and management, but to their credit they branch out much wider to a broad array of natural resource issues.

Case in point, this is from their latest bulletin dated January 18, 2013:

“Carp, wolves, moose, copper and sand will be high on the agenda as the Minnesota Legislature tackles environmental and outdoor issues this session. Key players agree the Legislature may finally take concrete action to stop the advance of Asian carp up the Mississippi River.

The Department of Natural Resources wants to draw the line by building an expensive barrier. And the discussion won't stop there. The landscape for environmental and natural resource issues has shifted since the last session, when the GOP ran the Legislature. Democrats now control both chambers and the governor's office for the first time since 1990, and they lead all the key committees. But prospects for the shift in power leading to policy changes are tempered by the need to close an estimated $1.1 billion budget deficit.

Lively discussions are expected about wolf hunting and trapping. The state's first wolf season since the animals came off the endangered list ended with 413 dead wolves. Lawmakers may also discuss whether the state should still allow moose hunting as their numbers dwindle. Mining is expected to be part of the debate — copper, nickel and precious metals in northeastern Minnesota and frac sand in the southeast. Climate change could come up, and environmental groups will push for a solar energy standard.

The Bulletin does a little bit to tip their had on MDHA’s priorities this session, and I would advocate to them that as issues develop, they provide interested sportsmen and women with talking points for contacting their Legislators. As I recall from last year’s bulletins, a flurry of action was requested at the end with little during the midsection of the session.

I urge sportsmen and women who are compassionate about the outdoors and want the Legislature to do right by them to follow this bulletin. Keep up to date on outdoors issues in the Outdoor News and follow other websites like the news blog on the Minnesota Conservation Federation’s mncf.org.

Put your energies to these local issues and worry less about the national debate that will not go far very fast. You’ll still have guns to hunt down the road, but will the wolf hunt go away after a successful first season? The national debt will be what it will be but you won’t be able to think about it as you dodge flying carp on the Mississippi.

What natural resource priorities will be cut as a $1.1 billion budget deficit is eliminated. The budget shifts and shell-game policies of the most recent Legislative sessions have to end but will a DFL led government continue to support the natural resources as well as the hook and bullet crowd or will they listen to the part of their constituency that doesn’t purchase hunting and fishing licenses. The state’s Republicans could do a much better job of that as well but they don’t get the final say on that one.

Time will tell. Pay attention. Make a call. Write a letter. Be involved. The natural resources will be a priority when the sportsmen and women push to make it one.   

Categories: Ron Hustvedt

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