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DNR seeks input on deer hunting, trapping, duck, fall turkey hunting

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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is seeking citizen input on nearly a dozen different hunting season options.

Meetings are scheduled around the state. One of the meetings will take place in Sebeka, on March 9, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Sebeka Public School gymnasium, 200 1st Street N.W., Sebeka.

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The agency will take public comments on possible changes to Zone 3 deer hunting regulations, youth deer hunting, use of crossbows, fall turkey hunting, the duck season opener and trapping.

"We are addressing a number of topics that will be of great interest to many hunters and trappers this year," said Steve Merchant, DNR wildlife program manager. "We are very open to comment on all of these proposals and hope our stakeholders can either attend a meeting or give us their comments online."

Each year, the DNR conducts public meetings across the state to gauge hunter opinions about regulations, seasons and other wildlife management issues. Those who cannot attend the meetings are urged to complete a questionnaire online at www.mndnr.gov.

Topics to be addressed include:

Furbearer harvest: In an effort to simplify regulations and provide additional opportunity, public comment will be taken on allowing river otter trapping statewide, including in southwest counties where the season is currently closed.

Youth deer season: This four day, youth only deer season would be conducted statewide during what's colloquially known as MEA Weekend, when public school students are given a two day break on Thursday and Friday so teachers can attend the annual Education Minnesota Professional Conference. Youth would be allowed to take one either sex deer statewide. Adults would not be allowed to carry a firearm. The early antlerless season would coincide with the youth season in areas where an early antlerless hunt already is scheduled.

Buck cross-tagging: Public comment is being taken on requiring hunters in Zone 3 to tag only bucks that they shoot. Hunters would no longer be allowed to tag bucks for others in their hunting party.

Antler point restriction: In an effort to protect the majority of yearling bucks and encourage the harvest of does. Zone 3 hunters would be restricted to harvesting only bucks with at least four antler points on one side.

Zone 3 season length: If an antler point restriction were enacted, the Zone 3A season would be lengthened to nine days under this proposal.

Crossbows: Public comment is being taken on allowing anyone 55 and older to hunt during the archery season with a crossbow.

Fall turkey hunting: Public comment is being taken on a proposal to expand fall turkey hunting to a single 30-day season. Public comment will also be taken on allowing dogs while hunting fall turkeys.

Duck opener: Public comment is being invited on a possible legislative change that would allow the duck season to open in late September. For example, the 2010 duck season could open on Sept. 25 rather than Oct. 2 if this proposal were carried forward.

Duck shooting hours: Comment is being taken to gauge public support for moving shooting hours for ducks on opening day to one-half hour before sunrise as opposed to the current shooting hours, which begin at 9 a.m. Actual changes would require future legislation.

Other Waterfowl Management Options: Opportunity for public comment on other management options such as moist soil units, additional refuges, controlled hunting areas and split seasons and zones.

Waterfowl feeding and resting area: In addition, some local meetings will include the chance to comment on establishing a migratory waterfowl feeding and resting area at Upper Twin Lake in Freeborn County.

MEETING DATES AND LOCATIONS

Those who can't attend the meetings may submit comments via e-mail wildlife.dnr@state.mn.us or mail written comments to: Season Comments, DNR Section of Wildlife, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4007.

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