Whether or not a state government shutdown occurs Friday, some Minnesota anglers believe it might, judging by the increase in fishing license sales in recent days.
Last week, the DNR said that sales of fishing and similar licenses won't occur during a state shutdown and advised anglers worried about the possibility of a shutdown to buy licenses by the end of business Thursday.
Since that announcement, fishing license sales have outpaced those from a year ago during the same period.
Example: On Wednesday and Thursday of last week, license sales were almost exactly what they were a year ago on the same two days.
On Friday, sales jumped significantly, from about 6,000 in 2010 to about 11,000. The increased pace continued Saturday, from about 9,000 license sales to 13,000, and on Sunday-Monday, when sales rose from 9,000 to 16,000.
The pace perhaps accelerated still more Tuesday, when the phone at the DNR license center in St. Paul was "ringing off the hook,'' a manager there said.
Fishing and other licenses are sold throughout the state, with vendors hooked together electronically. Licenses also can be purchased by phoning a Missouri vendor toll-free.
Technically, the phone sales could continue during a shutdown. But that won't happen, because no one in the DNR would be available to receive credit card funds transferred from the vendor to the state. More to the point, a clause in the DNR's contract with the vendor calls for its suspension during a shutdown.
Meanwhile, fishing license sales continue to drag behind those recorded a year ago. But the gap is narrowing between the two sales years.
On June 15, the difference was about 57,000 licenses, in favor of 2010. Now it's about 46,000 -- 826,000 in 2010 to 780,000 this year.
If you still don't have a fishing license -- or are worried that a shutdown could extend for months and you want to buy a hunting license -- you have until the end of business Thursday to make a purchase.
Dennis Anderson • firstname.lastname@example.org