Bills would ban small lead fishing tackle, lower walleye limit, allow guns statewide for deer – Duluth News Tribune


Minnesota state lawmakers are starting to talk about more than COVID-19 and fight each other, with legislation introduced in recent weeks that would ban the use of small lead fishing jigs and sinkers and another bill to lower the state’s general walleye bag limit. six fish against four.

Minnesota lawmakers are in their long session, held every two years, which began Jan. 4 and is scheduled to end May 17. So don’t expect anything to happen too quickly, with multiple hearings on each bill before anything moves forward. .

Bills must be passed by the Senate and the House in the same form and then signed by the governor to become law.

The lead fishing tackle ban, which has been introduced several times over the past few decades but still hasn’t progressed, addresses a chronic problem of lead poisoning of loons and other birds when birds ingest small sinkers and jigs lost by fishermen while fishing.

Lead is a highly toxic substance, banned for years in gasoline and paint due to its deadly toxicity to humans and also banned in shotgun ammunition for waterfowl hunting. Even a small lead sinker can kill loons, which ingest the pieces of lead while picking up small pebbles from the bottom of lakes and rivers that are used to digest their food.

The bills would prohibit the manufacture, sale and use of lead paraphernalia one ounce or less or less than 2.5 inches in length.

The bills give anglers, stores and manufacturers more than three years – until July 1, 2024 – to transition to non-toxic items such as tungsten, brass or pewter. The lead ban would not apply to sinkers larger, weights or jigs heavier than an ounce, or lead-core fishing lines, larger bottom bouncers, spoons or jigs. other apparatus.

Several other states and provinces have already enacted similar bans on small lead fishing tackle.

Critics of a lead ban have said Minnesota’s loon population is not declining and the move would cost anglers more for lead substitutes like tungsten. But proponents say the cost increase is only pennies per unit and that all the loons killed by lead poisoning, when there are other options for tackle, are too many.

The main sponsor for HF157 is Rep. Peter Fisher, DFL-Maplewood. SF247’s main sponsor is Senator Charles Wiger, DFL-Maplewood.

State Rep. Rob Ecklund, DFL-International Falls, introduced a bill to lower the general walleye bag limit from six fish per day to four fish.

The bill, HF100, would not impact lakes or rivers that already have special regulations or lower limits for walleye, such as Mille Lacs or Red Lake, but would impact waters where the current limit is six. The Senate version of the bill, SF12, was introduced by Senator Carrie Ruud, R-Breezy Point.

Proponents say growing angling pressure, in part due to increased technology, is causing too many walleye to be removed from some Minnesota lakes. Unlike other species that are mostly caught and released – like bass and muskellunge – most anglers keep as many walleyes legal to eat as are allowed. If they catch them.

The statewide walleye limit has not changed in Minnesota since 1956, when it was reduced from eight to six.

“I just think it’s time to do it statewide. We’ve had a four walleye limit on Rainy (Lake) for maybe 20 years now and it’s worked well,” Ecklund said. . “It might help simplify things if we could go to four walleyes statewide, at least on most lakes.

Brad Parsons, director of the DNR’s fisheries section, said the agency fully supports reducing the catch limit, both for social and biological impact. No neighboring state has a six walleye limit. And Parsons noted that many of Minnesota’s most popular and productive walleye lakes already have reduced limits and other special regulations.

“We think people are getting more efficient at catching fish, and with social media it can really have a quick impact on fishing” when the fishing is hot, Parsons said. “I have no data to tell you that it will leave more walleye in any particular lake, that it will help improve fishing in any lake. But socially and for conservation, we think it’s the right thing to do.”

Critics of lowering the limit say it will have virtually no biological impact because so few anglers catch five or six walleye in a single day. Trap surveys show that the average number of walleye caught is generally less than three per day per angler, so the limit would need to be reduced to two fish per day to have a significant impact.

Rifles are legal statewide for deer, battle against CWD is beefed up

Ecklund is also the lead author of a bill already advanced on Capitol Hill that would expand rifle use for deer hunting across the state, not just in northern areas, eliminating the designated area for shotguns. hunt that has existed for decades throughout much of southern and far western Minnesota. .

Bob Meier, the DNR’s assistant commissioner for policy and government relations, testified Tuesday in favor of the provision, saying it simplifies statewide regulation. Rifles are already in use statewide for coyote and fox hunting, and large-caliber handguns are already in use for deer hunting statewide, noted DNR deputy director Pat Rivers. for fish and wildlife. Rivers said allowing guns statewide will have no impact on deer management. MNR law enforcement officials also supported the change.

Ecklund’s bill, HF219, also addresses issues of chronic wasting disease. The bill creates new requirements for deer farms, including one to immediately notify MNR of an escaped animal if the animal is not returned or captured within 24 hours. The bill also requires the identification of farmed white-tailed deer to include certain contact information for the owner. It allows a licensed hunter to kill and possess an escaped farmed cervid (deer, moose or elk) without being liable to the owner for the loss of the animal and requires that farmed cervids killed by a hunter or DNR are tested for CWD at the farmer’s expense.

Ecklund’s legislation also expands a provision prohibiting the importation of deer and elk carcasses. Under current law, a person cannot import a deer, moose or elk carcass harvested by a hunter unless it has been treated to meet certain requirements to ensure that it was cleared of all brain tissue and spine. The bill extends the provision to all deer, moose and elk carcasses, not just those harvested by hunters.

Ecklund’s bill also includes changes to muzzleloading regulations regarding when electronic ignition guns are considered unloaded and also permanently permits portable deer stalls in fire management areas. the wildlife of northwestern Minnesota.

The bill passed the House Environment and Natural Resources Finance & Policy Committee on Tuesday and is now moving through the process.

Carry permit good for gun safety

HF119, introduced by Rep. Jerry Hertaus, R-Greenfield, and SF283, introduced by Sen. David Osmek, R-Mound, would allow hunters to replace a valid carry license instead of having a firearms safety certificate . Gun safety certificates are currently required for anyone born since 1980 before they can purchase a state hunting license.

More gun safety, hunting and angling courses in schools

HF320, presented by Rep. Josh Heintzeman, R-Nisswa, would provide $1 million to the DNR over the next two years for a new grant program to local school districts to improve gun safety, hunting, archery and angling as part of physical activities. education courses.

Country ATV Trail traveler gets the money

Ecklund introduced a bill granting $950,000 over the next two years to expand the North Country ATV trail in far northern St. Louis County that connects the Iron Range to the border region around the park National Travelers.

Money from HF45 would go to trail projects from Ely to International Falls – including Ash River, Orr, Cook and Kabetogama – for bridges and connecting trails.


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