Governor Dayton Wants to Crack-Down on Illegal Poaching

March 27, 2015

Governor’s proposal would stiffen penalties for criminals who illegally kill wild game

ST. PAUL, MN – As a life-long hunter and angler, Governor Mark Dayton has proposed significant reforms to Minnesota’s poaching laws this session. Governor Dayton is pushing hard to enact more stringent penalties for those who intentionally violate the state’s hunting and fishing laws. The Governor’s push for tougher poaching penalties comes in the wake of numerous high-profile instances of illegal poaching activity in Minnesota. By enacting more severe consequences for these crimes, Governor Dayton and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) hope to deter illegal poaching, and ensure these criminal acts are properly and thoroughly punished.
“The recently reported instances of wanton and wasteful poaching in Minnesota should offend the sensibilities of all ethical and law-abiding hunters and anglers,” said Governor Dayton. “They are shameful criminal acts, and they should be treated as serious offenses by Minnesota laws. I ask our state’s sportsmen and sportswomen to join me in urging the legislature to increase the penalties for these disgusting abuses.”
Governor Dayton’s poaching reform proposal would enact stiffer criminal penalties and longer license revocations for anyone who unlawfully take and possess significant numbers of wild animals. The Governor’s proposal would establish a new felony-level penalty for poaching, and revoke game and fish licenses and privileges for a period of up to ten years. Current law only includes up to a gross misdemeanor penalty for poaching and license revocations of up to only five years.
“Gross over-limit violations are not accidental,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “The reforms being championed by Governor Dayton this year reflect the values of responsible Minnesota hunters and anglers. This proposal would enact strong and appropriate penalties for those who intentionally disregard the ethical and legal boundaries of hunting and fishing in Minnesota.”
Minnesota’s game and fish laws are intended to balance and maintain healthy populations of wild animals, recreational hunting and fishing opportunities, and sustainable commercial uses – now and for future generations. Under the Governor’s proposal, the felony penalty for poaching would apply to individuals who unlawfully take animals above a restitution value of $2,000. Gross over-limit penalty thresholds are based on the wildlife restitution values set in law, which include:
  • Four or more deer
  • Two or more trophy deer
  • Five or more bears or turkeys
  • Forty or more ducks, geese, pheasant, grouse, or salmon
  • Sixty-seven or more walleye or Northern pike
Recent Instances of Criminal Poaching in Minnesota
Several egregious instances of illegal poaching have surfaced in the last several months, highlighting the need to enact stricter penalties to deter this criminal activity and safeguard wild game in Minnesota.
  • Two Rare Bull Elk in Northwestern Minnesota – Just this week, two bull elk were illegally shot and killed near Grygla. The elk were killed by poachers an area that holds Minnesota’s smallest elk herd – an area has been closed to hunting since 2012. According to the DNR, these bulls represented about 10 percent of the known Grygla elk herd. The Grygla herd has declined in recent years, and is currently estimated at 18 elk – down from 20 counted last year, and 28 counted in 2013. Anyone with information about the illegal shooting of the two bulls, or the suspicious death of a bull elk in the Grygla area in fall of 2013, is urged to call the 24-hour, toll-free Turn In Poachers (TIP) hotline.
  • 28 Sets of Antlers Seized in Deer Poaching Case – In January of this year, the DNR seized 28 sets of antlers in a deer poaching investigation in Dawson, Minnesota. The antlers included 11 shoulder mounts, most of which were trophy class animals. Also seized were four sets of elk antlers and a set of mule deer antlers. In a freezer, officers also discovered a fully intact piebald deer, which was untagged and had been killed with a high-powered rifle. DNR officers also seized a freshly-killed eight-point whitetail buck, which investigators determined had been killed with a high-powered rifle. Suspects in the poaching case were charged with gross misdemeanors for transporting illegally taken big game, use of an artificial light to take deer, hunting during prohibited times, trespassing, and failure to register deer. Complaints from the public through the Turn In Poachers (TIP) hotline helped DNR officers uncover the scheme and press charges.
Turn In Poachers
Minnesota’s “Turn In Poachers” (TIP) program was formed in 1981 by concerned citizens who wanted to stop the illegal harvest of game and fish in Minnesota. TIP operates a 24-hour, toll-free hotline (800-652-9093) that Minnesotans can call to lodge complaints against suspected poachers. Cell phone users can also dial #TIP to file a complaint. The information and the person reporting poaching activity can be kept confidential. Those reporting violations are asked to obtain as much information as possible, and to report all violations as soon as possible. If an arrest is initiated, the person reporting the violation may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000, depending upon the seriousness of the crime.


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Take Action: Votes Today on the Sale of Public Land



Take Action: Votes Today on the Sale of Public Land


Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, a national organization representing more than 100,000 hunters and anglers around the country, is asking for your help to defend against attacks currently underway

Scotty and Julian Gonzalez  working to protect public land in DC this week

as senators in Washington, D.C., finalize their budget for Fiscal Year 2016. A “vote-a-rama” is taking place today to consider numerous amendments that have poured in from both sides of the political aisle.


Sportsmen have some urgent priorities to tackle together if we are to uphold our public lands hunting and fishing traditions. Before voting begins today, please take a moment to contact your senators’ offices to express your strong opposition to budget amendment 838. Introduced just last night by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the costly provision would enable the sale and/or transfer of federal public lands, including national forests, wilderness areas, national wildlife refuges, historical sites and other important conservation lands, for the purpose of balancing the budget. Sen. Mike Lee is levying a similar attack. His senate amendment 747 proposes selling federal public lands to reduce the federal deficit. If passed, these measures could permanently affect our ability to access and enjoy our public lands and waters. We need to stop them in their tracks.


Our national public lands support a thriving and sustainable $90 billion annual hunting and angling economy and a $646 billion annual outdoor recreation economy. To sell or transfer these lands would mean a profound loss of access and opportunity for America’s 40 million hunters and anglers, not to mention dire consequences for the fish and wildlife that depend on intact migratory corridors and healthy habitat.


We are not without allies and champions in the Senate, however. Following a robust fly-in earlier this week, which BHA orchestrated to bring sportsmen from around the country to Washington, D.C., Sen. Martin Heinrich introduced amendment 1024, which precludes the sale of any public lands to reduce the federal deficit and has bipartisan support. This amendment is just the kind of leadership we are looking for in Congress, and it’s important that we not only recognize Sen. Heinrich but also encourage other senators to vote in support of his amendment.


Few issues galvanize sportsmen like the issue of supporting public ownership of public lands, a sentiment that is reflected in this letter, signed by more than 100 national, regional, and state-based sportsmen’s organizations, opposing the transfer/sale of public lands. Our system of widely accessible multiple use public lands is the envy of the world and we need all of you to help us protect this legacy.


Call your Senator and ask them to:

Vote NO on Senator Murkowski’s Amendment #838

Vote NO on Senator Lee’s Amendment #747

Vote YES on Senator Heinrich’s Amendment #1024

Call the capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Senator.


Thank you in advance for joining us in this important fight,


Together we will carry the day.


Onward and Upward,






Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is the sportsmen’s voice for our wild public lands, waters and wildlife


Learn more about BHA:

Visit our website.

Connect with us on Facebook.

Follow us on Twitter.

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DNR news releases, March 26, 2015

DNR urges state forest and off-highway vehicle
trail users to check for temporary closures

With warm weather on the way, many off-highway vehicle (OHV) riders may be eager to hit the trails, but state forest roads and trails are typically wet during the spring, so the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will need to close some areas temporarily.

“The spring thaw leads to soft soils, which may be susceptible to damage,” said Scott Kelling, northeast regional manager for the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division. “Temporary closures are being put in place across the state.”

“We will work to let users know when and where they can ride,” added Dave Thomas, northwest regional manager for the DNR’s Forestry Division. “In turn, we ask users to check before riding to avoid areas that are temporarily closed, and to ride responsibly wherever they are.”

The DNR will post signs indicating temporary road and trail closures at entry points and at parking lots in state forests. The restrictions will be lifted as soon as possible.

For information about the condition of specific state forest roads and public off-highway vehicle trails, visit Updates are also available from the DNR Information Center; send email to or call 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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2015 Spring League Participation Sets Record Again!

8,600 student athletes to participate in shooting sports this
spring in the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League.
Minneapolis/Saint Paul – The Minnesota State High School Clay Target League (MSHSCTL) will host more than 8,600
registered student athletes representing 243 trap shooting and 25 skeet shooting high school teams for the 2015 spring
season. Led by the support of their schools and more than 2,400 volunteer coaches, thousands of student athletes will
participate in shooting sports weekly April through June at more than 150 shooting ranges throughout Minnesota.
“Last year, 6,100 student athletes participated in the spring league,” said
Jim Sable, Executive Director of the MSHSCTL. “With the addition of 83 new
teams, the expansion of existing teams, the increased capacity of shooting
facilities, and the addition of the new spring skeet league are some of the
factors attributing to the continued success as Minnesota’s fastest-growing
high school sport since 2008.”
The clay target league is also the safest sport in high school. Since 2001,
the MSHSCTL has no reported injuries or gun-free zone violations at school.
Upon completion of the spring league, all trap shooting teams are invited to
participate in individual and team competitions at the 2015 MSHSCTL Trap
Shooting Championship at the Alexandria Shooting Park in Alexandria,
Minnesota scheduled for June 11-16. “With an expected 20,000 attendees
including more than 5,000 student athletes, this tournament will be the
largest shooting sport event in the world” Sable said.
The spring league culminates with the State Tournament that includes the Minnesota State High School League as a
presenting partner. This State Tournament provides the opportunity for the highest qualifying individual and team achievers
from the clay target league to compete for the ultimate recognition as state champions from the Minnesota State High School
League. In 2014, the Minnesota State High School League became the first state high school interscholastic athletic
association in America to provide support and recognition for trap shooting as a high school sport.
The USA High School Clay Target League is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and operates the Minnesota State
High School Clay Target League as the independent provider of shooting sports as an extra curricular co-ed and
adapted activity for high schools and students in grades six through 12 who have earned their firearms safety
certification. The organization’s priorities are safety, fun and marksmanship – in that order.
For more information visit
Contact: John Nelson at 612-490-1388 or email

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DNR news: Death of two bull elk under investigation

Death of two bull elk under investigation in northwestern Minnesota

Two bull elk were illegally shot and killed near Grygla in an area that holds Minnesota’s smallest elk herd and has been closed to hunting since 2012, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

“Our investigation found that these elk had been shot and left,” said Lt. Pat Znajda, a supervisor with the DNR’s Enforcement Division. “The illegal killing of these bulls chips away at the outdoor heritage valued by law-abiding people in this state.”

Wildlife officials spotted the dead elk in late February on state land while conducting an aerial elk survey. An onsite visit revealed a dead bull and a younger dead bull with spike antlers that were found in thick willow cover. Both animals were frozen and had been dead for some time. DNR conservation officers were called to investigate.

“The discovery of two dead bull elk is disturbing,” said John Williams, DNR northwest region wildlife manager. “These bulls represented about 10 percent of the known Grygla herd. Due to the decline of this herd, the causes of which are unknown, there has not been a hunting season since fall of 2012.”

There are three distinct elk herds in northwestern Minnesota, which comprise the state’s entire elk population. The Grygla herd has declined in recent years and is currently estimated at 18 elk, down from the 20 counted last year and 28 counted in 2013.

“This herd had already been in decline before this incident, and there is no indication the decline has been caused by disease,” Williams said. “From 2006 to 2009, wildlife managers counted more than 50 elk in this herd. In 2009, the population goal range for this herd was set at 30 to 38 animals, and hunting had brought the herd within that range following the last hunting season in 2012.”

Elk are managed to maintain a free-ranging, wild population in far northwestern Minnesota. These herds afford recreational and economic opportunities, including wildlife watching and hunting seasons when their populations can sustain a hunt.

The DNR is in the process of updating a strategic management plan for elk, which will include a public input process before it is finalized. The plan will address population goals, landowner concerns about crop damage, and opportunities to hunt and view elk.

Anyone with information about the illegal shooting of the two bulls or the suspicious death of a bull elk in the Grygla area in fall of 2013 is urged to call the 24-hour, toll-free Turn In Poachers (TIP) hotline at 800-652-9093. Cell phone users can dial #TIP. They can also contact Znajda at 218-242-1383.

For more information on Minnesota’s elk management, visit

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newsletter 3-24-15

Upcoming events.

I hope everyone is enjoying the spring like weather!   It feels like fall again!    Now is the time to come out & go hunting!!

We have released almost 9,000 birds so far this season with over 2,000 birds booked for next month already.


Sign up ASAP for any of these events as they are sure to fill up quickly. 


March 28th Archery only Pheasant Hunt.

Contact Cory Kostuchowski at 612-819-2883

March 29th 1st day of High school Trap at Wings North;

April 11th North Branch Education foundation Sporting Clay Fundraiser Contact Alan Schultz 651-277-2265

April 12th all pheasant European shoot!  Limited to 30 shooters, 300 Pheasants All Roosters!!!   Cost is only $200 per shooter.

April 18th Pheasants forever youth shoot.  8:00-9:00 registration.    

Contact Bob Joyce to sign your youth up.  651-206-9856

April 19th Becoming an outdoor women!  Gun Basics & shooting sports class.

April 19th Conceal & carry Class.   9:00-3:00am

April 24th St. Mary’s sporting clay Charity shoot. 

April 25th & 26th End of the season Hunt!     Between 75-100 Birds per field. 

This is an afternoon hunt.  Cost is usually between $225-$300 per hunter 5 hunters per field.  

May 2nd Guide Trial.   (Guides only & Guest) 

May 17th Becoming an outdoor women,  Trap shooting & Sporting clay’s

June 6th Biathalon.    We shoot Sporting clays in the morning & golf in the afternoon.   Call the clubhouse to sign your 4 person team!   Limited to 18 teams: 

July 18th Tree House Sporting clay fundraiser;    Contact Randy at 320-420-6937

August 15th Masonic Cancer Research foundation Sporting clay shoot.  

Contact Roger McNear.  612-790-5561


Please spread the word our Face Book page was taken down.

So you have to re-like Wings North   & friend Request Chad Hughes


Chad Hughes

Wings North

(320) 629-5002 Clubhouse

(320) 282-8614 Cell

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Media Advisory: Teleconference TODAY with Sportsmen on Federal Lands Transfers

Teleconference TODAY at NOON EDT:

Sportsmen Go to Washington, D.C., to Rally Against 

Sale or Transfer of Federal Public Lands


To join the call, dial 800-311-9403 and enter pass code 175716


WASHINGTON – As House and Senate Republicans prepare to debate their Fiscal Year 2016 budget priorities, sportsmen remain on guard against proposals that would transfer or sell federal public lands to state ownership, proposals that would mirror misguided efforts currently underway in numerous Western states.


State ownership of federal public lands could result in a range of negative impacts, including increased industrial activity; diminished public access for hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation; and the outright sale of these lands to private interests.


In recent months, thousands of hunters and anglers have rallied at state capitols across the West with one loud and important message:

Keep public lands in public hands

. This week, sportsmen have traveled to Washington, D.C., to urge their elected leaders to reject any shortsighted proposals to sell America’s public lands heritage.


Join a

press teleconference today, March 24, at noon EDT

to hear directly from hunters and anglers about the value of public lands in the U.S.


Sportsmen speaking will include the following:

  • Julian Gonzalez, Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Dan Harrison, Grand Junction, Colorado
  • Merin Tigert, Boise, Idaho
  • Paul Wilkins, Chief Conservation Officer, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Washington, D.C.
  • Moderator: Land Tawney, Executive Director, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Missoula, Montana

To join the call, dial 800-311-9403 and enter pass code 175716.


Please RSVP to Katie McKalip at 406-240-9262 or


Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is the sportsmen’s voice for our wild public lands, waters and wildlife


Learn more about BHA:

Visit our website.

Connect with us on Facebook.

Follow us on Twitter.

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Legislative update, March 20, 2015

Greetings from the Capitol,


Welcome to first deadline! This week, the Governor released his supplemental budget and MMB will be presenting it in the House Ways and Means on Monday.  The DNR Game and Fish bills (SF1303; HF1406) progressed and are headed to the Senate Finance Committee and the General Register. The DNR Policy and Technical bills (SF1430; HF1329) also were moved as amended, and are destined for Senate State and Local Government and House Government Operations and Elections Policy. The Omnibus Lands bills (HF1429; SF1406) were moved to the House Environment & Natural Resources Policy & Finance Committee and the Senate Energy and Environment Committee.

In the House Environment & Natural Resources Policy & Finance Committee, HF1649 and 1704 were passed and re-referred to the House Taxes Committee. Three other bills (HF989 and HF1349, HF1557) were laid over for possible inclusion. A bill that would establish trust funds with Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund dollars for the purpose of paying in lieu property tax payments (HF1707) passed and was re-referred to House Taxes. A similar bill is written for the Outdoor Heritage Fund (HF1706).

In the House Legacy Funding Finance Committee, HF462 (Legacy fund appropriation eligibility modified) and HF181 (Outdoor Heritage Fund) were laid over for possible inclusion in an omnibus bill.

Senator Hoffman’s bill on trapping modifications (SF1325) passed committees and is headed to the Senate floor. The House Mining and Outdoor Recreation Policy Committee’s Omnibus bill (HF1168) and Camp Ripley’s Sentinel Landscapes (HF283) were referred to the General Register.


With one more week before session break, look for another busy week at the Capitol. The tentative schedule for Monday and Tuesday is below. For the most up to date list of meetings and bills, please visit committee web pages or currently posted meetings for the House and Senate.

Please contact me at or Bob Meier ( ) if you have any comments on concerns. It’s great to hear American robins again, true ambassadors of spring. Grab a pair of binoculars and see what birds you can find this weekend in our great outdoors!




Monday, March 23, 2015


Monday, March 23, 2015 10:15 AM House

Ways and Means

Room: 200 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Jim Knoblach


MMB: Presentation of the Governor’s Supplemental Budget

Monday, March 23, 2015 11:00 AM Senate


Monday, March 23, 2015 12:30 PM House

Legacy Funding Finance

Room: Basement Hearing Room
Chair: Rep. Dean Urdahl, Josh Heintzeman


HF129 Dettmer Big Marine Lake veterans rest camp   improvement funding provided, and money appropriated.
HF821 Green Culvert replacement grant funding provided,   and money appropriated.
HF1016 Lillie Ramsey County; Culturally relevant sport   courts and fields development and installation funding provided, and money   appropriated.
HF1323 Rarick Wastewater treatment system planning   appropriated money from the clean water fund.
HF453 Hancock Veterans programs funding provided, and money   appropriated.
HF1007 Wills Dakota County; Mississippi River Regional   Trail funding provided, and money appropriated.
HF1866 Petersburg Motor vehicle lease sales tax revenue   deposits clarified.
HF1706 Drazkowski Outdoor heritage trust fund account   established, trust fund payments to counties provided, and money   appropriated.
HF1049 Drazkowski Soil and water conservation district block   grant funding provided, and money appropriated.
HF698 Pierson Parks and trails fund usage to acquire   property by eminent domain prohibited.
HF791 Lueck Cuyuna Mountain bike system funding provided,   and money appropriated.

Legacy funding request by the Regional Public Libraries
HF1049 (Drazkowski) Soil and water conservation district block grant funding provided, and money appropriated
HF698 (Pierson) Parks and trails fund usage to acquire property by eminent domain prohibited
HF791 (Lueck) Cuyuna Mountain bike system funding provided, and money appropriated.
Committee Documents:


Monday, March 23, 2015 3:30 PM House

The House Meets in Session


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 8:15 AM House

Civil Law and Data Practices

Room: 10 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Peggy Scott


HF1935 Green Religious objections to autopsies provided.
HF1793 Loonan Horse racing definitions modified and   provided, Minnesota Racing Commission powers and duties clarified, licensure   requirements and other regulatory provisions provided and modified, and   industry-related revenue provided.
HF1972 Schomacker Revisor’s bill; erroneous, ambiguous, and   omitted text and obsolete reference corrected; redundant, conflicting, and   superseded provisions removed, and miscellaneous corrections made.

**More bills may be added **
Committee Documents:
HF 1972 Amendment A15-0244.pdf

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 8:15 AM House

Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance

Room: 5 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Denny McNamara


HF1477 Uglem Solid waste reduction and recycling grant to   counties usage modified, and solid waste management tax revenue allocation   amended.
HF624 Dill Snowmobile registration fees modified.
HF608 Hackbarth Trap shooting sports facility grants provided   funding, and money appropriated.
HF946 Hackbarth Metropolitan regional park maintenance and   operation funding provided, and money appropriated.
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