Conservation officer weekly activity reports confirm what officials with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) already suspected: Deer baiting was pervasive during the 2011 big game season.
DNR conservation officers issued 144 citations, issued 24 warnings and seized 134 firearms/bows in baiting relation investigations during the 2011 bow, firearms and muzzleloader seasons. It’s the highest number of baiting citations issued during the deer hunting seasons since the DNR began tracking these violations in 1991.
“It seems that every year our officers are spending more and more time responding to complaints about baiting or discovering it while on patrol,” said Lt. Col. Rodmen Smith, DNR Enforcement assistant director. “It’s become a very common violation.”
Deer baiting is strategically placing a pile of food near deer stands or clearings with the intent of luring a deer into close hunting range. It has been illegal to bait deer in Minnesota since 1991.
Conservation Officer Marty Stage of Ely said he spent a lot of the big game season “chasing violators illegally baiting deer. The practice has certainly not gone away or apparently even slowed,” Stage said.
The fine for illegal baiting is $300, plus $80 or so in court costs. Another $500 can be tagged on for restitution if a deer is seized. Guns may be confiscated as well.
“It is pretty sad when the rifle that has been handed down for generations is lost forever due to unethical hunting,” said Conservation Officer Darin Fagerman of Grand Marais. “Grandpa might not be too happy about that either.”
Smith said he is hopeful that by releasing the numbers on illegal baiting activities, it sends a message that Minnesota values it natural resources and there is a price for engaging in this activity.