Minnesota DNR Cracking Down on Deer Baiting

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Minnesota deer hunters are reminded to review new baiting regulations before heading to the field this fall. Changes in the regulations went into effect late last year after deer baiting complaints reached a new high during the 2005 deer hunting season.

"Conservation officer reports were laced with illegal baiting activity last deer season," said Maj. Al Heidebrink, DNR Enforcement Division operations manager in St. Paul. "The rule changes that took effect late last year will hopefully tighten the loopholes some hunters used to skirt the law."

Heidebrink said if people are found hunting over bait, the penalty includes a fine between $150 and $200. If a deer is shot over bait, it's an automatic $500 restitution payment.

It has been illegal to bait deer in Minnesota since 1991, but those who choose to break the law argued that they were simply feeding other wildlife. Heidebrink said other hunters got fed up with the excuse and asked that changes in the regulation eliminate any loopholes.

"Hunters can make a difference. And they should, because baiting hurts those who follow the rules," Heidebrink said.

THE BASICS OF THE NEW RULE

It is currently illegal to place or use bait for the purpose of taking deer. The new rule:

  • maintains the baiting prohibition and states that a person may not hunt deer with the aid or use of bait
  • clarifies that it is unlawful to hunt where the person knows or should have known there is bait
  • clarifies that it is unlawful to hunt where the person has placed bait or caused bait to be placed within the previous 10 days
  • prohibits the transportation and placement of food items that are capable of attracting or enticing deer (vs. for the purpose of attracting deer).

Bait does not include liquid scents, salt or minerals placed for deer. Bait also does not include food resulting from normal or accepted farming, forest management, wildlife food plantings, orchard management, or other similar land management activities.

These new provisions are intended to close some of the loopholes associated with baiting. Such issues as "I'm feeding the pheasants not the deer," or "I didn't know there was bait here," or "I didn't know there was bait placed here last week" will no longer work.

Remember, baiting deer is a form of poaching and poachers should be reported.

People who have information on illegal baiting can contact a local conservation officer or call the Turn In Poachers Hotline at 1-800-652-9093 or cell phone users can dial # TIP.