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Minnesota public meetings seek citizen comment on hunting, trapping

From the Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources

-- For the next six weeks, the Minnesota DNR is seeking citizen input on nearly a dozen different hunting season options during public meetings beginning Feb.23 in Frontenac.

The agency will take public comments on possible changes to Zone 3 deer hunting regulations, youth deer hunting, use of crossbows, fall turkey hunting, the duck season opener and trapping.

Each year, the DNR conducts public meetings across the state to gauge hunter opinions about regulations, seasons and other wildlife management issues. Those who cannot attend the meetings are urged to complete a questionnaire online at www.mndnr.gov starting Feb. 23.

Topics to be addressed include:

Furbearer harvest
In an effort to simplify regulations and provide additional opportunity, public comment will be taken on allowing river otter trapping statewide, including in southwest counties where the season is currently closed.

Youth deer season
A four-day, youth-only deer season would be conducted statewide during what’s colloquially known as MEA Weekend, when public school students are given a two-day break on Thursday and Friday so teachers can attend the annual Education Minnesota Professional Conference. Youth would be allowed to take one either-sex deer statewide. Adults would not be allowed to carry a firearm. The early antlerless season would coincide with the youth season in areas where an early antlerless hunt already is scheduled.

Buck cross-tagging
Public comment is being taken on requiring hunters in Zone 3 to tag only bucks that they shoot. Hunters would no longer be allowed to tag bucks for others in their hunting party.

Antler point restriction
In an effort to protect the majority of yearling bucks and encourage the harvest of does. Zone 3 hunters would be restricted to harvesting only bucks with at least four antler points on one side.

Zone 3 season length
If an antler point restriction were enacted, the Zone 3A season would be lengthened to nine days under this proposal.

Crossbows
Public comment is being taken on allowing anyone 55 and older to hunt during the archery season with a crossbow.

Fall turkey hunting
Public comment is being taken on a proposal to expand fall turkey hunting to a single 30-day season. Public comment will also be taken on allowing dogs while hunting fall turkeys.

Duck opener
Public comment is being invited on a possible legislative change that would allow the duck season to open in late September. For example, the 2010 duck season could open on Sept. 25 rather than Oct. 2 if this proposal were carried forward.

Duck shooting hours
Comment is being taken to gauge public support for moving shooting hours for ducks on opening day to one-half hour before sunrise as opposed to the current shooting hours, which begin at 9 a.m. Actual changes would require future legislation.

Waterfowl Management Options 
 Opportunity for public comment on other management options such as moist soil units, additional refuges, controlled hunting areas and split seasons and zones.

Waterfowl feeding and resting area 
 In addition, some local meetings will include the chance to comment on establishing a migratory waterfowl feeding and resting area at Upper Twin Lake in Freeborn County.

Meetings will be held, unless noted otherwise, from 7 to 9 p.m. on the following dates:
Feb. 23: Frontenac Sportsman’s Club, 30301 Territorial Road, Frontenac
Feb. 25: Houston Community Center, 109 West Maple Street, Houston
March 4: Initiative Foundation, 405 First Street Southeast, Little Falls
March 4: Waseca Area Senior Citizen’s Center, 308 State Street N, Waseca
March 9: LaQuinta Inn & Suites, 1625 Broadway, Rochester
March 9: Kilowatt Community Center, 600 Kilowatt Drive, Granite Falls, 6:30- 8:30 p.m.
March 11: DNR Headquarters cafeteria, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul
March 16: Spring Lake Town Hall Community Center, 20381 Fairlawn Avenue, Prior Lake
March 16 (6:30-9:30 p.m.) Hinckley-Finlayson High School board room, 201 Main Street, Hinckley
March 17 (6-9 p.m.) Rainy River Community College room H118, International Falls

The location, time and date of meetings in northwest and southwest Minnesota will be announced once meetings are scheduled. Those who can’t attend the meetings may submit comments via e-mail wildlife.dnr@state.mn.us or mail written comments to: Season Comments, DNR Section of Wildlife, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN, 55155-4007.

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