An exercise in democracy: DNR’s late-winter hunting, fishing, and wildlife public meetings

Rob DriesleinI’ve attended a lot of DNR public meetings over the years in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Even though I hear many comments that ruffle my feathers about fish, wildlife, and natural resources management at the hearings, I love attending them. They’re a great little exercise in democracy – a face-to-face interaction between the executive branch and the general public. We don’t do that enough anymore in this country.

For you single guys out there, it’s also a great place to bring a date. No kidding! I brought my girlfriend, now wife, to the public hearing in Red Wing, Minn., in 1994. We were in that phase when we wanted to spend every moment together (of course, we still are in that phase…), and when I told Annette that I had a public meeting to cover, but she could join me, she happily tagged along.

The gal was impressed with the gyrating and angst over outdoors issues. Several farmers yelled about all the deer eating their corn. Another guy stood on the table in front, mocking the passion of a local trophy trout fishing advocate. There were several “too many wolves up north!” and even a “is the DNR releasing cougars down here?!”

I’d seen it all before, so it didn’t phase me much, but Annette was highly impressed – OK, more like shocked – by the level of discourse. The high point for her came toward the end when an old codger jumped up and demanded first dibs at area roadkill. “I’m a township officer, and I been told the law says I’m supposed to get the deer that’ve been hit by cars!”

I’m not making that up. Don’t remember how the DNR staff facilitating the meeting resolved the question, but Annette still chides me about the roadkill guy. Who takes a woman out for a date night at Club DNR?

Again, single guys, Annette and I have been married going on 17 years, so I must’ve done something right those many years ago. 

Even if you don’t have a date, the DNR has a pretty good agenda for its 2013 winter public meetings. The agency’s release is below. I’ll be attending at least one, though I doubt I’ll convince Annette to attend. Maybe I’ll bring one of our camo-clad kids.

Minnesota DNR release from Thursday, Feb. 14:
Open-water duck hunting among topics at public input meetings

The Minnesota DNR is seeking citizen input on creating limited opportunities for open-water hunting for waterfowl as well as a number of other topics at its annual public input meetings.  

The first in the series of statewide meetings will be from 7-9 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 26, at the Rolf Olsen Community Center, 806 W. Kathio St., in Onamia.

Aside from open-water duck hunting, the DNR is seeking input on the following proposals:

  • Allowing Canada goose hunting in August to alleviate depredation of agricultural fields in west central Minnesota.
  • Opening the second portion of the state’s 124-day crow season later in the year.
  • Opening prairie chicken hunting season earlier in October than the current season.
  • Allowing youth age 17 and younger to hunt during all spring turkey seasons with a limit of one. Youth would not be required to select a permit area.
  • A separate public input process will be conducted to address deer antler point restrictions in southeastern Minnesota. 

People who cannot attend a meeting are urged to complete a questionnaire online at www.mndnr.gov/wildlife/input starting on Monday, Feb. 25. 

Comments are also welcome via email at wildlife.dnr@state.mn.us. Written comments may be addressed to: Season Comments, DNR Section of Wildlife, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4007.

Other meetings, which also will be conducted from 7-9 p.m., are:

  • Thursday, Feb. 28, Frontenac Sportsman’s Community Center, 30301 Territorial Road, Lake City.
  • Monday, March 4, Windom Area DNR office, 175 County Road 26.
  • Thursday, March 14, DNR Headquarters, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul.

Additional meetings in northern and western areas of the state will be scheduled soon.

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