Hunting surcharge would help the needy
ST. PAUL -- The needy could have venison on the menu courtesy of a bill that tacks on a $1 surcharge to deer hunting licenses. Despite staunch opposition from Republicans, the bill gained just enough support for a narrow victory Monday in a Minne...
ST. PAUL -- The needy could have venison on the menu courtesy of a bill that tacks on a $1 surcharge to deer hunting licenses.
Despite staunch opposition from Republicans, the bill gained just enough support for a narrow victory Monday in a Minnesota House outdoors committee hearing.
Under the bill, deer hunters would ante up an extra dollar when registering for a license. The funds would reimburse businesses that process deer brought by hunters looking to donate the meat to charitable organizations that distribute food to the poor.
Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul, said the legislation would also serve another benefit.
"This, I believe, helps us reduce the deer population," he told fellow Game, Fish and Forestry Division members.
That argument drew sharp criticism from Republicans on the committee. Rep. Tom Hackbarth, R-Cedar, noted that earlier attempts to pass similar bills at the Legislature failed amid concerns that legislative efforts would micromanage the Department of Natural Resources.
Managing deer herds should be left up to the DNR, he said. "I don't think we should be doing that."
Reps. Dean Simpson, R-Perham, and Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, also argued against the bill, which passed by voice vote on to a House policy committee.
The purpose may be noble, opponents said, but they argued that voluntary donations should be the rule.
"I would like to think that people who would like to donate would do it on their own and without a mandate," Little Canada resident Roger Hauck said during testimony.
The committee also lent support to a bill that would allow hunters of coyote and fox to use remote-controlled call devices.
The remote-controlled call devices could mimic the sound of dying woodpeckers, dying mice or a crow in distress, its sponsor, Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder, a former DNR conservation officer, said.
At least one lawmaker on the committee found the bill's aim troubling.
"There is no noise that I hate worse than a rabbit being caught in the woods," said Rep. Jean Wagenius, DFL-Minneapolis. "Do we have no end to the messing of the minds of animals?"
The bill may be included in a larger game and fish bill later in the legislative session.
Mike Longaecker works for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Bemidji Pioneer.