MN Statutes Allow for Game & Fish Taking Events, not Coyote-Killing Contests
Post date: Feb 25, 2016 9:38:04 PM
Update, 12/27/2015, Petition to Prohibit Wildlife Killing Contests in Minnesota.
On 3/11/2014, two apparently identical versions of a "Deer Raffle" bill (HF 2651 / SF 2048) had their first hearings in a House committee and a Senate subcommittee of the Minnesota Legislature.
The House version was included unchanged in the House Game & Fish Bill (HF 2852). The Senate version was amended by the author and included in the Senate Game & Fish Bill (SF 2227). They're paraphrased below to allow easy comparison.
To allow organizations to conduct raffles in conjunction with deer taking events
(for deer that are legally taken under game and fish laws and rules).
To allow organizations to conduct raffles in conjunction with wild game or fish taking events (for wild game or fish that are legally taken under game and fish laws and rules).
About 5/18/2014 the Senate version was selected for the House/Senate Conference Committee report for the Game & Fish Bill (HF 2852). The Game & Fish Bill passed both chambers, was signed by the Governor, and became law. Its "Wild Game or Fish Raffle" section is now in MN Statutes as Section 349.173.
Apparently, due to a lack of scrutiny on the part of the MN Gambling Control Board, the 1/17/2015 "Save the Birds" Coyote Hunting Tournament in Marshall, MN was held as if it were allowed by the "Wild Game or Fish Raffle" Statute Section 349.173. That was an error that needs to be addressed before it's repeated in 2016 (the Marshall, MN event is scheduled for 2/19/2016 - 2/20/2016).
Several important points can be taken from the video recording of the 3/11/2014 MN House hearing of HF 2651 (https://youtu.be/D2epMo-8JSU). 1) The bill received no critical examination; 2) the MN DNR waived comment on it, judging it to be a "social issue surrounding deer hunting" (not the type of issue that the MN DNR would normally comment on); and 3) the MN Gambling Control Board recommended expanding it to other game animals, but that recommendation was not followed.
Video recording of the 3/11/2014 MN House Committee hearing of HF 2651, the "Deer Raffle" bill.
The 3/11/2014 and 3/18/2014 MN Senate hearings were not as easy to review, but as far as this reviewer was able to ascertain, 1) The bill received no critical examination, 2) the MN DNR was not asked to comment, and 3) the recommendation of the MN Gambling Control Board was followed.
It's interesting to think about how Bob Meier, MN Department of Natural Resources Policy & Government Relations Director, waived comment on this issue with the following comment: "The DNR has no problems or concerns with the bill before you today. It doesn't impact the management of deer or anything like that; it's more of a social issue surrounding deer hunting. So we do support the bill."
But let's get to the bottom line: MN Statute Section 349.173 now allows raffles in conjunction with "wild game taking events." It does not allow raffles in conjunction with coyote-taking events.
Here's why. The legal term "game" is defined in MN Statutes Section 97A.015 as "big game and small game." Coyotes are not big game or small game--they're defined as "Unprotected Wild Animals".
The MN Gambling Control Board and the MN DNR need to get their act together on this issue, and enforce the law; events like the 2016 "Save the Birds" Coyote Hunting Tournament in Marshall, MN should not be allowed to proceed.
P.S. All of the above above about raffles is only part of this Petition to "Prohibit Wildlife-Killing Contests in Minnesota." Although fishing tournaments and "big buck" contests might be considered more acceptable than coyote-killing contests--because fish & game regulations protect game fish and game animals to a much greater degree--nevertheless, this Petition is calling for a general prohibition of wildlife-killing contests in Minnesota.
Snapshot from MN DNR Bob Meier's 3/11/2014 MN House Committee testimony regarding the "Deer Raffle" bill HF 2651.