Boaters, anglers, hunters, target shooters, ATV riders, trappers and other outdoor enthusiasts all will be affected by a bill passed by the Legislature and signed into law Saturday by Gov. Mark Dayton.
The legislative action proves again the power of the pen in influencing activities in the state’s woods, waters, fields and trails.
Among those affected:
• Minnesota’s 2.3 million boaters won’t have to pass a 30-minute training course on aquatic invasive species (AIS) or put a decal on their boats showing they passed the class. Instead boaters will have to register crafts and read a summary of AIS prevention requirements, and they will have to sign a form and possess it while on the water. Nonresident anglers will have to deal with the forms, too.
• Conservation officers and boat inspectors will require that boats contaminated with aquatic invasive species be cleaned before being launched.
• Wake surfers will have the same regulations as water skiers: to have an observer in the boat and a rearview mirror, and wake surfing will be prohibited from a half-hour after sunset to sunrise.
• Spearing bans will be removed on 11 lakes, including popular Minnetonka, Rebecca and Bald Eagle lakes in the Twin Cities.
• Catfish anglers will be allowed to net gizzard shad in the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers and use them for bait in the same waters they were caught.
• Deer hunters who buy their licenses after the season opens will be allowed to hunt the same day they bought the license as long as it was issued before legal shooting hours that day.
• Resident hunters age 84 and older — as well as those living in a Minnesota veterans home — will be allowed to take a deer of either sex on their license. No party hunting will be allowed.
• Hunters this fall will be allowed to transport ducks with just a fully feathered wing attached; previously they had to have a wing and head attached.
• Bear hunters possessing firearms will be allowed to use lights at night to search for bears they wound or kill during legal shooting hours.
• Deer hunters caught shooting outdoors with firearms or ammo within five days of the firearms deer opener might receive only a warning for their first violation. There will be exceptions. Previously they could receive citations.
• The DNR will be required to conduct an annual hunter satisfaction survey and post the results on the agency’s website.
• The DNR will have to include a wild turkey critical habitat license plate in its next selection of plate designs.
• Turkey hunters will be allowed to possess a handgun under the state’s conceal-and-carry law (as they can while hunting other species).
• It will be illegal to possess, release or hunt feral swine, though it will be legal for a person to shoot one as long as it is reported to the DNR within 24 hours; the swine will have to be surrendered to the DNR.
• Hunters will be allowed to use radio equipment to take unprotected wild animals, such as coyotes, without a permit.
• The beaver trapping season will be extended two weeks, until May 15, at the request of trappers and some northern Minnesota counties because recent late springs hampered beaver trapping success.
ATV riders, and others
• The definitions of ATVs will be changed from weight-based to size-based.
• A law allowing the hazing of Canada geese causing property damage will be expanded to include all game birds, including ducks and cranes, and the hazing also will be allowed to prevent the spread of disease, such as pathogenic avian flu.
• $2 million from the Game and Fish Fund will be appropriated for shooting-sports facility grants, including archery facilities.
BILLS THAT DIDN'T PASS
• A bill that would have tightened trapping regulations to prevent the accidental trapping of dogs stalled. Dog owners and some sporting groups pushed for it; trapping groups opposed it.
• A proposed increase in the surcharge on boat registration fees used to fight aquatic invasive species — now $5 for three years — to $10 over three years, didn’t pass.
• A $5 price hike for the annual state park pass, to $30, wasn’t approved.
• A proposal to ban recreational feeding of bears also died.