On May 3, 2012, Governor Dayton signed the omnibus game and fish bill (HF 2171) into law.
The passage of the omnibus game and fish bill in 2012 was a complicated and prolonged one, which included debate and voting on several key provisions, including a wolf hunting and trapping season, new trapping regulations, and discussion on animals killed by antifreeze poisoning.
Wolf hunting and trapping season
With the passage of the omnibus game and fish bill, a public hunting and trapping season of Minnesota’s gray wolves in 2012 has been authorized.
The omnibus game and fish bill included language to authorize a public hunt of the gray wolf in Minnesota. Both the Minnesota House and the Senate discussed the proposed wolf season. The original Wolf Management Plan contained a clause that authorized the DNR to consider hunting and trapping seasons no sooner than five years after wolves were removed from the federal Endangered Species List (they were removed in Dec, 2011). The requirement to wait for five years for a hunting season was removed from law in 2011. In the Senate, votes were taken on an amendment to postpone the season for five years. The amendment was offered by Senator Hann, and Senators Dibble, Eaton, and Bonoff spoke in favor of it. MVAP supported this amendment. Unfortunately the amendment failed: 26 senators supported it and 40 senators opposed it. Votes taken on the amendment are included in MVAP’ Humane Scorecard 2011-2012.
For more information on the political landscape and pressures affecting the passage of the game and fish bill, please see Dayton OKs wolf hunt, license increases. For more information on Minnesota’s wolf season and wolf management, please see Animal Bills: Bills Affecting Wolves.
During 2012, there were several bills were put forward that attempted to change current trapping law in Minnesota.
Pressure from people whose dogs have been killed accidentally in traps on public lands led to the introduction of one of them, a bill (HF 2243/ SF 1736) that restricts certain body-gripping traps, such that traps must be placed 5 feet above the ground and in a manner that protects domestic dogs. The bill did not advance out of committee, but was offered as an amendment on the floor of the Senate and on the floor of the House during the debate on the omnibus game and fish bill. The bill’s author in the Senate, Senator Wiger, and the bill’s author in the House, Representative Ward, offered the amendment to protect dogs from being inadvertently caught in traps. MVAP supported these amendments. Unfortunately both amendments failed: in the Senate 24 senators supported it and 41 senators voted against it, and in the House 55 representatives supported it and 76 representatives voted against it. Votes taken on the amendments are included in MVAP’s Humane Scorecard 2011-2012.
For more information on the issue of dogs killed in traps, including information on how other trapping bills which were included in the omnibus game and fish bill signed into law in 2012 will not protect dogs, please visit the blog compiled by Scott Slocum.
Also introduced in 2012 was a bill (SF 1820/ HF 2417) that aimed to extend the amount of time a trapper needs to check his snares, so that snares would not need to be checked for three days. In committee the DNR testified against this bill, citing the inhumaneness of leaving a potentially live animal caught in a snare for up to three days. Fortunately, this bill did not move forward this legislative session.
A bill requiring a bittering agent be added to antifreeze to protect against accidental poisoning (SF 2232/HF 2599) was introduced in the Minnesota Legislature in February, 2012. According to the Doris Day Animal League, the sweet taste of antifreeze attracts animals, but less than a teaspoonful can be fatal. Adding a few drops of bittering agent to the antifreeze removes the sweet taste, disinclines animals to ingest it, and protects animals from death by poisoning.
The bill did not advance in 2012, but its main author in the senate, Senator Sieben, offered it as an amendment to the omnibus game and fish bill when that bill was being debated by the full Senate. Senator Sieben cited dog deaths reported to her by constituents after the dogs ate deer meat poisoned with antifreeze (which was put out by people hoping to kill coyotes in their area), as well as support from the humane community and no opposition from the MN Chamber of Commerce. MVAP supported this amendment. Unfortunately, the Senate President agreed with Senator Ingebrigtsen, who spoke against the amendment, and ruled the amendment non-germane. No votes were taken on Sieben’s amendment.