DNR Seeks Comment on Hunting and Trapping Issues

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A deer hunting zone realignment and expansion of otter trapping are among topics the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wants to discuss with hunters at this year's annual public input meetings.

Each year, the DNR holds a series of public meetings across the state to gauge hunter opinions about regulations, seasons and other wildlife management issues. Additional topics will include extending spring turkey shooting hours, the use of non-toxic shot for small game, and additional waterfowl feeding and resting areas. People who cannot attend the meetings can e-mail comments to [email protected].

"Input gathered at these meetings is extremely valuable as we consider potential regulation changes," said Mike DonCarlos, DNR wildlife program manager. "We'll outline other issues as information becomes available."

BIG GAME - DEER ZONE REALIGNMENT

Seven Zone 4 permit areas south of U.S. Highway 10 (410, 411, 413, 414, 415, 419 and 429) would become part of Zone 2 under this proposal. This would create one continuous nine-day season instead of the current split seasons in these areas. Boundaries will remain the same. In addition, permit areas 417 and 418 north of Minnesota Highway 55 would become part of Zone 2. Portions south of Highway 55 will be combined into a single permit area but remain in Zone 4. Similarly, permit area 412 north of Interstate 94 would become part of Zone 2 with the south portion remaining in Zone 4.

FURBEARERS - OTTER TRAPPING ZONE EXPANSION

As a result of research on otter distribution, habitat and population dynamics in southern Minnesota, the DNR is considering expanding the otter trapping zone. This would open portions of southern Minnesota, particularly along the Mississippi river, to otter trapping.

TURKEY - SPRING TURKEY SEASON SHOOTING HOURS

Legislation, supported by the National Wild Turkey Federation, may be introduced this year to change spring turkey shooting hours to one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. Currently, shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to 5 pm. DNR agreed to collect public comments on this proposal.

NON-TOXIC SHOT FOR SMALL GAME

The DNR is considering non-toxic shot requirements for small game hunting, to reduce lead toxicity in wildlife and reduce environmental lead accumulation. An advisory committee that includes hunting stakeholders will investigate options and develop proposals. It is likely that DNR will restrict the use of lead shot on managed mourning dove fields on state wildlife management areas this fall, but further restrictions are not anticipated this year.

WATERFOWL FEEDING AND RESTING AREAS

Mud and Goose lakes in Itasca County have been proposed by petitions for designation as waterfowl feeding and resting areas. This designation would prohibit the use of motorized watercraft during the waterfowl hunting season.

MEETING DATES AND LOCATIONS

All public input meetings will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., except Northome, which will be 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. The meeting in St. Paul will be "open house" style, where participants can come at any time during the two hours to discuss issues and offer comments.

DATE TOWN MEETING LOCATION

Feb. 28, St. Cloud,Civic Center, Stockinger Suite

March 1, Virginia, Mesabi Community College, Room C175

March 2, St. Paul, DNR Headquarters, 500 Lafayette Road

March 6, Altura, Whitewater State Park Visitors Center

March 8, Willmar, Willmar Senior Citizens Center

March 8, Northome, Northome School Library

March 9, Fergus Falls, Prairie Wetlands Learning Center

Written comments may be submitted to [email protected] to Hunting and Trapping Season Comments, DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4007.