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Game and fish bill has foxes, raccoons and ‘big bucks’

By Charley Shaw

MN House Public Information Office

ST. PAUL — Hunters would not be able to use thermal imaging equipment to find their deer and people wouldn’t be able to take foxes from their dens during the warm-weather months under a bill in a Minnesota House game and fish bill.

“It’s always a popular and thorny bill, from time to time,” Representative David Dill, D-Crane Lake, said.

The House Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Finance Committee approved the bill last week and referred it to the House Taxes Committee.

While the bill is big on critters, it’s light on new spending. The spreadsheet registers $100,000 in total costs to the Department of Natural Resources’ Game and Fish Fund, which is supported by revenue from hunting and fishing license sales.

The funds pay for developing a licensing system for disabled hunters. Permanently disabled hunters can get licenses that allow them to hunt from a vehicle or obtain other types of assistance.

The bill would allow hunters to designate their disability status on the back of their driver’s licenses. That would save them from having to take their medical documentation to places where hunting licenses are sold, such as certain convenience stores.

Hunters might soon be able to hold big buck contests for money. The Gambling Control Board would be allowed to license organizations to sell raffle tickets for deer contests.

The hunter that shoots the biggest deer would take home the prize winnings. The bill was introduced by Representative Carly Melin, D-Hibbing, who referred to the “big buck contests” during testimony earlier in the session.

A hunter currently can’t shoot an animal with the aid of night vision goggles. The bill would expand the statute to also prohibit thermal imaging equipment.

People currently are not allowed to disturb the burrow or den of a wild animal without a permit during the hibernation months between Nov. 1 and April 1. The bill would add to the current law that a person can’t remove a fox from a den or trap a fox within 300 feet of a den from April 1 to August 31. Also, raccoons could be allowed to be taken from a den or hollow tree.

The author writes for the nonpartisan Session Daily (http://www. in the Minnesota House Public Information Office.