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State moose hunters affected by BWCAW forest fire have options

Participants in this fall's bulls-only moose hunt can choose to have their licenses refunded and reinstated for a future hunt if the Pagami Creek fire in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness has impacted or limited access to the zone in which they are authorized to hunt.

Moose hunting zones affected by this decision are zones 20, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 61, 62, 63, 64, 77 and 80.

"It's not just a question of direct fire impacts but of restricted access over a significant period of time prior to the hunt," said Steve Merchant, wildlife program manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). "The fire has been burning for more than a month. This may have prevented hunters from properly planning and scouting their areas in preparation for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Additional zones could be added if the Pagami Creek fire or related closings by the U.S. Forest Service prevent access to additional moose zones. Current information about moose hunting zones affected by the fire is available on the DNR website.

If hunters in fire-impacted zones can access the zone in which they are authorized to hunt, they can choose to hunt regardless of the fire. If access to a zone is not possible or earlier fire-related closures prevented access, hunters in fire-impacted zones can choose to participate in a future hunt.