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'Always Ask First'

On eve of gun hunt, Minn. urges hunters to review trespass law

By: Minnesota Dept. Natural Resources

With Minnesota’s small game, waterfowl, and archery deer seasons under way and the firearm deer season set to begin Nov. 9, conservation officers with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) remind hunters that there is one sure way to avoid landowner concerns associated with trespassing: “Always Ask First.”

“Trespass is the biggest problem landowners have with hunters,” said Col. Ken Soring, DNR enforcement director. “It is critical for hunters to have good relationships with landowners, especially when you consider that in some parts of the state such as southwestern Minnesota about 95 percent of the land is privately owned.” “If hunters and other outdoor recreationists would just make it a standard practice to always ask for permission before entering any private land, those relationships would improve a lot.”

Soring encourages all hunters and landowners to obtain a copy of the 2013 Hunting and Trapping booklet and review the trespass information beginning on page 6. “I can’t stress enough how important it is to be very familiar with the trespass law.”

Trespass penalties range from a $50 civil fine to a criminal penalty of several thousand dollars, confiscation of vehicles and hunting equipment, and revocation of hunting privileges for 2 years. It was the most cited violation in Minnesota last year.

The DNR offers its top 10 list of violations, including the number of citations/warnings in 2012:

  1. Trespass 337

  2. License/registration/permit not in possession/displayed 245

  3. No valid license/registration/permit 239

  4. Hunting over bait 225

  5. Transporting uncased/loaded firearm in a motor vehicle 222

  6. Unplugged shotgun 161

  7. No blaze orange 139

  8. Closed season (take/possession) 126

  9. Untagged (deer, fur, traps, nets) 124

  10. No federal waterfowl stamps 122

“Only a small percentage of Minnesota hunters run afoul of the law,” explained Soring, “a majority of hunters in our state abide by wildlife rules and regulations.”

If you see a violation, the DNR urges you to contact the Turn In Poachers (TIP) hotline at 800-652-9093 to report any alleged wildlife violation, including hunter trespass. Cell phone users can dial #TIP.

Unlike urban law enforcement agencies, conservation officer response times to trespass calls may be longer, especially during the firearms deer season. Information must include precise time and location, along with a full description including a license plate number of any vehicle believed to be involved.

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