Published April 04, 2012
Don Davis, Associated Press
ST. PAUL — Minnesota House members approved wolf hunting and
trapping seasons on Tuesday despite warnings that the American Indian
community may challenge it in court.
“When we make laws, we make
laws for all the people of Minnesota,” Rep. Kerry Gauthier, DFL-Duluth,
said before representatives approved a bill 82-49 that included the wolf
Bill sponsor Rep. Tom Hackbarth, R-Cedar, said no tribal
representatives testified against the wolf provisions, even though it
was well publicized.
“Sometimes we need to reach out to other communities,” Gauthier responded.
He said he thinks Ojibwe tribes are gearing up for a court fight.
tribal exchange was among many issues representatives debated during a
lengthy discussion about game and fish issues contained in Hackbarth’s
Among other issues was approval of “mom’s amendment,” allowing fishing a week earlier than normal next month.
Up to 400 Minnesota wolves could be taken by hunters under the bill.
Department of Natural Resources reports 3,000 wolves live in Minnesota,
the most of the lower 48 states. Wolf population dropped to fewer than
750 in the 1950s.
Federal officials removed it from the endangered species list last year, opening the opportunity for a wolf season.
Hackbarth bill establishes the wolf season at the same time as the deer
season. Conservationists fear that with the number of deer hunters out
at that time of year too many wolves would be killed.
or trapping licenses would cost $26, on top of a $4 fee required to
enter a license lottery. Residents of other states would pay $250 for a
Similar wolf-hunting and trapping provisions are in a
Senate bill that Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, expects to be
debated this week.
Rep. David Dill, DFL-Crane Lake, offered an
amendment to Hackbarth’s bill to allow fishing a week before the normal
fishing opener this year.
Called the “mom’s amendment” because the
opener otherwise would fall on Mother’s Day, the provision approved on a
voice vote would apply this year only.
“This is a bonus week,” Dill said.
bill does not include provisions to raise hunting and fishing license
fees, but he said a bill doing that could be heard by the House as early
as Wednesday. Ingebrigtsen’s bill includes the fee increases.
backed 87-44 a provision requiring most publically owned shooting
ranges to be open four times a year for youths completing gun training
classes to take tests.
“These are facilities the public paid for and we are saying, ‘Let the kids use them,’” Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, said.
Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, wondered if the same logic applied to
other public facilities, such as opening public works garages for the
public to repair vehicles.
Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, broke
from other Republicans and voted against the provision because a
training facility in his community would need to be closed if it were
opened to the public.
“We would have to send our law enforcement people elsewhere,” said Lanning, who was Moorhead mayor 22 years.
The bill also would:
— Require hunting and fishing licenses to continue to be sold even if the rest of government shuts down due to a budget impasse.
— Increase three-year snowmobile registration fees from $45 to $75.
Establish a $10.50 license fee for canoes, kayaks, sailboards, paddle
boards, paddle boats and rowing shells longer than 10 feet.
— Require the Department of Natural Resources to conduct a hunter satisfaction survey on its Web site.
— Limit the use of body-gripping traps.
Establish a winter season for brown trout, brook trout, rainbow trout
and splake on Boundary Waters Canoe Area lakes from Jan. 15 to March 31
and elsewhere Jan. 1 to March 31.
Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.