Minnesota Senate committee approves moratorium on wolf hunting and trapping

It’s been a fairly quiet legislative session on the outdoors front, but there are a few bills worth noting that have received hearings in the past couple of weeks.

One of them, HF 2421, authored by Rep. Carly Melin, DFL-Hibbing, would reduce penalties for people caught hunting deer over bait. Under her bill, DNR conservation officers couldn’t seize firearms from people caught baiting for the first time, unless they’d shot a deer over the bait.

COs have confiscated hundreds of firearms during the past three gun seasons, likely from some people who would be protected by Melin’s bill.

Melin says her bill isn’t condoning baiting, but rather attempting to bring the violation in line with the penalty. (Baiting is a misdemeanor.)

While her bill wasn’t voted upon in the Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee last week, the committee’s chair – Rep. David Dill, DFL-Crane Lake – supports it, and indicated it would pass.

On the wolf hunting and trapping front, for the second year in a row the Senate Environment and Energy Committee has passed a bill that would create a wolf hunting and trapping moratorium.

The bill, SF 2256, authored by Sen. Foung Hawj, DFL-St. Paul, would close the wolf season and require the DNR to take a variety of steps before re-opening it.

The bill passed that committee and heads now to the State and Local Government Committee.

Sen. Matt Schmit, DFL-Red Wing and chair of the Game and Fish Subcommittee, voted in favor of the wolf hunting and trapping moratorium, but said he doesn’t see traction in either the Senate or the House for wolf-related legislation. Dill has said the House won’t pass such legislation.

Finally, the bill carrying the recommendations of the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council – HF 1926, authored by Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul – now has cleared to House committees. Earlier this week, the Legacy Committee spent about 90 minutes discussing the bill before passing it.

As many expected, it appears the bill will be relatively non-controversial this year, though fights likely remain over one part of the bill that would spend $2.8 million for a project that would acquire lands within the reservation boundaries of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

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