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Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published April 27 2012

Minnesota: Hunting, fishing license fee hikes on way

ST. PAUL – Minnesota legislative negotiators agreed with 60 outdoors groups that hunting and fishing fees should increase, but ditched a proposal to open the fishing season a week early.

They also agreed to establish wolf hunting and trapping seasons.

The House and Senate were to consider the two bills negotiated bills.

Most hunting and fishing license fees would rise under the bill. Adult deer licenses would go from $26 to $30, and adult fishing licenses would rise from $17 to $22.

Lifetime fishing license fees would rise from $383 to $508, and lifetime deer hunting licenses from $573 to $656 for people 16 to 50 years old.

Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, worked to get enough Democratic support to pass the bills because not all majority Republicans would back it due to the higher fees.

Outdoors groups asked the state to increase hunting and fishing fees because a state fund the fees feed is going broke.

Mark Johnson, executive director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, said his group cautiously agreed to support the license fee hikes after the Department of Natural Resources gave assurances it would work to manage for more deer in the wake of recent population declines.

“They definitely have the data to show they need the dollars,” Johnson said. “It’s been running on a pretty skinny nickel for quite some time, and it’s not getting any better. From a wildlife standpoint, over 93 percent of the wildlife division’s funding comes from hunting licenses. When you look at that, hunting licenses are the key to make sure we’ve got good wildlife management.”

Wolf hunting and trapping seasons would be open now that the federal government has removed wolves from the endangered list. Hunters may use firearms or bows and arrows.

The firearms wolf season would open on the same day as firearms deer hunting season. The natural resources commissioner would decide how many wolves could be taken and how many licenses to issue.

Wolf license fees would be $30 for Minnesotans and $250 for residents of other states.

Also in the compromise bills are provisions to:

Brad Dokken of the Grand Forks Herald and Danielle Nordine contributed to this story. Nordine and Don Davis report for Forum Communications Co.

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