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MN 2015 body-gripping setback bill would help to protect dogs along roads and trails

posted Mar 15, 2015, 1:15 PM by Scott Slocum   [ updated Mar 26, 2016, 7:18 AM ]
MN Senate hearing of body-gripping trapping road & trail setback bill SF 1070, 3/9/2015.

Update, 5/18/2015:

As expected (in the realm of GOP politics) this MN House  bill HF 1070 was denied a hearing or vote.

Although this MN Senate bill HF 1070 was properly included in the Game & Fish bill HF 1406, and passed all of its committee hearings well before the end of the legislative session, it was not scheduled for a floor vote. 

The scheduling of a Senate floor vote is the responsibility of Senate leadership, specifically Sen. Tom Bakk, a lifetime member of the Minnesota Trappers Association, and an opponent of the bill.

This was just one of the procedural tricks that was played by Sen. Bakk this session, interfering with the open and transparent operation of State government, and misusing the power of "leadership" in order to prevent the passage of popular legislation. 

It's not supposed to work this way. Good legislation like this, reasonable and popular, is supposed to move through the system on fair votes, and if it passes, become law--whether a few, entrenched legislators like it or not.

Due to political game-playing by a few MN legislators in key positions, the Game & Fish Bill was not scheduled for a floor vote. Instead, a few selected pieces of it were picked out and inserted into what had been the omnibus Environment & Natural Resources finance bill (which then became the "omnibus Agriculture, Environment, & Natural Resources policy and finance bill," HF 846, a long mess of deal-making and questionable procedure).

Similar story (no MN Senate floor vote) for the body-gripping trapping-regulation bill to protect dogs: SF 1325 / HF 1655.

Update, 3/17/2015.

This "road & trail buffer bill" for body-gripping trapping, HF 1070 / SF 1070, is now a part of the Game & Fish Bill HF 1406 / SF 1303.

The MN Senate Game & Fish Bill, SF 1303, was passed with several technical amendments by the MN Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/17/2015. 

The hearing was well attended by trappers and dog lovers, who were able to come downstairs following the big hearing of SF 1325: the "DogLovers Bill" an hour earlier.

Sen. Hall said he wants to restore this bill to its full strength, with 150-foot buffers on both sides of the centerline. It was weakened by narrowing those buffers to 50 feet, for the convenience of trappers, at the expense of everyone else--and our dogs.

Another important request will be to come up with an inclusive definition of the term "public trail" (and to keep a good, inclusive definition of the term "public road").

Good news: it's something.

Bad news: it offers even less protection than it did when it was introduced (trapping lobby chipping away).

Conclusion: your conclusion might depend on whether you're a "glass half-full" person or a "glass half-empty" person.

Summary, full strength, as introduced:

  • No body-gripping traps in the buffer strip on each side of the road or trail.
  • Buffer strip: 150-feet from the centerline.
  • Public road: not initially defined. Most people would expect the definition to be "the roads where people walk with their dogs."
  • Public trail: not initially defined. Most people would expect the definition to be "the trails where people walk with their dogs."

Summary, as weakened at the request of the trapping lobby, 3/11/2015:
    • No #220 body-gripping traps in the buffer strip on each side of the road or trail.
    • Buffer strip: 50-feet from the centerline or road ROW, whichever is less.
      • Most common road ROW is 33 feet from the centerline.
    • Public road: "State, county, city, or township road."
    • Public trail: "State Trail designated under section 85.015."
    • No body-gripping traps in the buffer strip on each side of the road or trail.
    • Buffer strip: 50-feet from the centerline.
    • Public road: defined in MN Statute Section 160.02, Subdivision 26.
    • Public trail: "Trail that is managed by a federal agency, state agency, or a political subdivision of the state."

MN Sen. Chuck Wiger
MN Sen. Chuck Wiger