New rules: Fish for free, hunt private landYoung anglers would be able to fish free for an extra two years, and Minnesota hunters will have access to more private land for hunting under a game and fish bill passed last week by the Minnesota Legislature.
By: Forum Newspapers, Lake County News Chronicle
Young anglers would be able to fish free for an extra two years, and Minnesota hunters will have access to more private land for hunting under a game and fish bill passed last week by the Minnesota Legislature.
Anglers also would be able to use two lines instead of one on many waters if they buy a $10 “endorsement,” or stamp.
The bill must be signed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty before it becomes law. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has expressed some concerns about elements of the bill, which it will convey to the governor, said Ed Boggess, DNR deputy director of the Fish and Wildlife Division.
Specifically, the DNR has concerns about the Legislature setting and closing some seasons and calling for specific regulations on certain bodies of water, Boggess said.
Here’s a look at some of the bill’s proposed changes in hunting and fishing laws:
Youth fishing licenses
Starting March 1, 2011, youths up to age 17 would be able to fish without a license. Currently, they may fish only through age 15 without a license. The change was made in an effort to encourage more young people to take up fishing, said Sen. Satveer Chaudhary, chair of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
“We’re supportive of the intent of the law,” Boggess said. “But we feel it should have been part of a larger fiscal discussion.”
The change would mean a loss of about $560,000 annually in license fees and federal matching funds, he said.
Walk-In Access Program
The bill would establish a two-year pilot program for walk-in hunting access on private lands. The program is similar to South Dakota’s Walk-In hunter access program and North Dakota’s PLOTS (Private Land Open To Sportsmen) program. It would begin this fall.
The bill calls for $1.4 million to be allocated from the DNR’s Game and Fish Fund for a 25,000-acre pilot program. Under the program, willing landowners would be paid by the DNR to open their lands from Sept. 1 to the end of small-game season. The program in the Dakotas is especially popular with pheasant hunters.
Pheasants Forever, a national conservation group based in St. Paul, supports the walk-in pilot effort, said Pheasants Forever’s Joe Duggan.
“The challenge is to see what it’s going to take,” Duggan said. “The pilot program is to see what the feasibility is, then hopefully get some federal matching dollars that are available.”
Two lines for fishing
Effective March 1, 2011, anglers would be able to use two lines for fishing during the open-water season if they purchase a $10 “endorsement” at the time they buy their fishing licenses. (Currently, anglers are able to use two lines on Lake Superior and the St. Louis River during the open-water season and on most lakes during ice-fishing season.)
Daily and possession limits for someone using two lines would be half the normal limits. An angler buying the two-line endorsement would be bound by that limit all during the open-water season whether fishing with one line or two.
“I think fishing should always be fun, and two lines makes it funner,” Chaudhary said. “And we’ve attached some conservation to it.”
The DNR originally opposed the two-line proposal because of concerns about the resource, but the reduced limits address that, Boggess said.
Use of smelt as bait
Fresh or frozen cisco or smelt would be legal to use for bait on Lake Superior. Cisco or smelt “that has been processed to inactivate viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS)” could be used on other waters.
“Inactivated” means smelt or cisco that have been treated with a combination of salt and Borax or that have been pickled, Boggess said.
Grouse hunting from vehicles
Grouse hunters would not be permitted to shoot at a grouse with a gun or a bow unless they are at least 10 feet from the vehicle and the vehicle’s engine is shut off. This is a new version of a rule that was in place for several years but was then rescinded two years ago. The original rule required hunters to be 60 feet from their vehicles.
Bowhunting for deer
Bowhunters would be permitted to carry handguns while bowhunting for deer.
Duck season could now begin before Oct. 1. A previous law required the season to begin no sooner than Oct. 1.
Counties or townships would be allowed to offer a bounty for the taking of coyotes by legal methods.
Spearing of northern pike would be allowed on Cass Lake during the spearing season. Restitution charges would be doubled for anyone taking a muskellunge illegally on Cass Lake.
A hunter selected in the bear-hunting lottery must purchase a license by the Friday that is closest to July 31. Any remaining available licenses not purchased will be available the following Wednesday to hunters who applied unsuccessfully in the lottery.
The driver of a vehicle that collides with and kills a deer on a public road would have priority for keeping the deer if it was not taken illegally. The driver would have to obtain a possession permit from the DNR.
If a buck deer is taken in a “lottery” deer area or an area with antler-point restrictions, and if the animal is quartered, the head would have to remain attached to one of the quarters until registered and processed.
New language would allow the use of fish eggs as bait, with restrictions similar to those for cisco and smelt, to prevent the spread of VHS.
Restitution values for deer
Restitution values for trophy deer taken out of season would be increased. The larger the trophy, the greater the restitution charge.