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MN bill advances to require landowner permission for trapping

posted Apr 2, 2017, 11:28 AM by Scott Slocum   [ updated May 12, 2017, 4:22 PM ]
3/30/2017 news from the MN state capitol on the bill to require landowner permission to trap (HF 1924 / SF 1390):

Update: 5/12/2017

Bad news: the protections for landowners and their dogs that had been passed by the MN Senate have not been included in this year's Environment & Natural Resources bill, HF 888.

Apparently, the conference committee chose to ignore the issue, and as a result excluded it from the bill.

This news is based on a fairly-detailed review of the video recordings of the conference-committee meetings on 4/19, 4/20, 4/25, 4/27, and 5/1/2017. No discussion of the proposal to require landowner permission for trapping on private property was found in these recordings. The voting on how to reconcile the differing sections of the House and Senate bills was done in the 4/25 and 4/27 meetings. In each meeting, the procedure seemed to be to address each section on which an agreement had been made (apparently elsewhere, not in conference committee). In both meetings, Senate Section 58 (to require landowner permission for trapping on private property) was skipped without mention.

The conference-committee report on HF 888 was passed by both the MN House and Senate on 5/9/2017. It was vetoed by the MN Governor on 5/12/2017. It is expected to be the subject of upcoming budget negotiations and discussions of the questionable practice of including unrelated policy in budget bills.


On 3/29/2017, MN Sen. Jacob Isaacson brought the bill to the Senate floor as an amendment to the omnibus environment & natural resources finance & policy bill, SF 723. It passed on a voice vote.

On 3/30/2017, MN Rep. Peter Fischer brought the bill to the House floor as an amendment to the omnibus environment & natural resources finance & policy bill, HF 888. Unfortunately, it failed 58-76 on a roll-call vote.

The following members of the MN House voted to require landowner permission to trap on private property:

Allen; Anselmo; Applebaum; Barr, R.; Becker-Finn; Bennett; Bernardy; Bly; Carlson, A.; Carlson, L.; Clark; Considine; Davnie; Dehn, R.; Fenton; Fischer; Flanagan; Franke; Freiberg; Halverson; Hansen; Hausman; Hilstrom; Hornstein; Hortman; Jessup; Johnson, C.; Johnson, S.; Koegel; Kunesh-Podein; Lee; Lesch; Liebling; Lien; Lillie; Loeffler; Loon; Mahoney; Mariani; Masin; Maye Quade; Moran; Murphy, E.; Murphy, M.; Olson; Omar; Peterson; Pinto; Pryor; Rosenthal; Schultz; Slocum; Smith; Thissen; Wagenius; Ward; Wills; Youakim.

The following members of the MN House voted to continue to allow trapping without landowner permission:

Albright; Anderson, P.; Anderson, S.; Backer; Bahr, C.; Baker; Bliss; Christensen; Cornish; Daniels; Davids; Dean, M.; Dettmer; Drazkowski; Ecklund; Erickson; Fabian; Franson; Garofalo; Green; Grossell; Gruenhagen; Gunther; Haley; Hamilton; Heintzeman; Hertaus; Hoppe; Howe; Johnson, B.; Jurgens; Kiel; Knoblach; Koznick; Kresha; Layman; Lohmer; Loonan; Lucero; Lueck; Marquart; McDonald; Metsa; Miller; Nash; Nelson; Neu; Newberger; Nornes; O'Driscoll; O'Neill; Pelowski; Peppin; Petersburg; Pierson; Poppe; Poston; Pugh; Quam; Rarick; Runbeck; Sandstede; Sauke; Schomacker; Scott; Sundin; Swedzinski; Theis; Torkelson; Uglem; Urdahl; Vogel; West; Whelan; Zerwas; Spk. Daudt.

The bills from which these amendments originated (HF 1924 / SF 1390 and HF 1931 / SF 9) have significant bipartisan support, including authorship by Republicans and co-authorship by Democrats.

The next step for the omnibus bills (HF 888 / SF 723) will be a conference committee to resolve the differences between the House and the Senate versions. The good news is that this issue of requiring landowner permission to trap will be one of the differences to be resolved; which means that, at least, the issue continues to be presented to MN legislators, it's being talked about and considered, and it's that much closer to passing into law.

This is an excerpt from the full video recording.
There is testimony pro and con. Representatives Considine, Pinto, and Masin speak in favor. Representatives Cornish, Drazkowski, Loonan, and Fabian speak in opposition. The amendment fails 58-76 on a roll-call vote.

MN Sen. Jason Isaacson presents the A28 amendment to SF 723 on 3/29/2017 to require landowner permission for trapping on private property.
This is an excerpt from the full video recording.
All of the testimony (including support from Senators Hoffman, Housley, Eaton, and Hawj) is in favor of the amendment. Senator Ingebrigtsen accepts it as a friendly amendment, and it passes on a voice vote.


Update: 4/6/2017

The TV new program "Your Legislators" hosted a discussion between MN Senators Andrew Lang and Jason Isaacson on 4/6/2017. 

The key segment for Dog Lovers began at the 37-minute mark.


The program began with a good-natured discussion of the partisan fights that have been going on over taxation, health care, agriculture and buffer strips, E-12 education, and pensions.

At the 37-minute mark, the moderator Barry Andeson took the following question from a viewer: "Will the legislature adopt the A28 amendment to the environment & natural resources omnibus bill? That's the amendment that would require trappers to get permission for trapping on another person's private property."

The question was referring to Sen. Isaacson's 3/29/2017 amendment to the MN Senate omnibus environment & natural resources finance & policy bill (SF 723). It came up at 3:00 am in the late-night Senate floor session, and it passed on a voice vote.

Sen. Lang said that the amendment "didn't look right" to him. He's familiar with the trespassing section of the MN Hunting & Trapping Regulations Handbook; and based on that, he didn't believe that trappers would be legally allowed to trap on unposted private property without the permission of the landowner. 

That's a common misconception among people who haven't looked further into it (or had a dog injured or killed by trap set on their property without their knowledge). "Looking further into it" requires a careful reading of Minnesota Statutes Section 97B.001. It's not easy reading, partly because it doesn't come out and say that trapping is allowed without permission. It's what it doesn't say that matters; and it doesn't say that it's prohibited. Therefore it's allowed.

Sen. Isaacson confirmed that Senate legal counsel had confirmed the problem, and that's why he offered the amendment. Furthermore, being a reasonable person, Sen. Isaacson said that he wouldn't necessarily be against trapping on his land, as long as he knew about it, and had given permission--and as long as his dog didn't lose a limb because of it.

Sen. Lang went on to state another common misconception, that if you're following the letter of the law for body-gripping traps and snares, that "you shouldn't be grabbing dogs." It's never clear what someone means when they say "shouldn't," but the fact remains that legal body-gripping trap sets kill dogs every year.

Wrapping up the discussion on this point, Sen. Isaacson said he was surprised when Sen. Ingebrigtsen accepted the landowner-permission amendment as a "friendly amendment" thus assuring its inclusion in the bill. It's fair to say that he would also be pleasantly surprised if it were to make it past the conference committee and remain part of the bill (HF 888 / SF 723). That remains to be seen.