Almanac: Officials say stiffer penalties haven't detered deer baiting

  • Article by: Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 15, 2012 - 6:02 PM
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This photo shows a common way corn is placed to illegally bait deer. It's put in a plastic pipe, often anchored to a tree, that feeds corn as it is eaten by deer.

The three archery deer hunters near Hibbing didn't just put out corn and feed to attract whitetails. They used a light to arrow a deer after legal shooting hours.

Conservation officer Don Bozovsky busted the hunters last week. They now face fines, restitution and loss of their hunting privileges.

"It amazes me there are people out there taking that chance," Bozovsky said.

A law change requiring Minnesota hunters convicted of baiting deer to lose their hunting privileges hasn't discouraged that illegal activity, say Bozovsky and other law enforcement officials.

"I've had more cases this year than last year," Bozovsky said. "I don't know why."

Conservation officers have issued about 146 baiting citations this season, and have seized 135 firearms or archery equipment.

"If they are convicted, they will lose their hunting privileges for a year,'' said Phil Meier, Department of Natural Resources enforcement operations manager.

Last year, officers issued 157 citations and seized 134 firearms or bows. Officers issued 100 citations in 2010, 142 in 2009 and 141 in 2008.

"Baiting is still prevalent," Meier said. "A small number of deer hunters are willing to take the risk.''

The Legislature added the hunting privilege forfeiture because fines and firearms seizures didn't curtail baiting. But apparently some hunters are willing to even risk their ability to hunt for a year.

"We might have to bump that up to loss of hunting privileges for three years," Bozovsky said. "Maybe that's what it takes [to curtail baiting].''

Deer baiting is placing food near deer stands or clearings with the intent of luring a deer into shooting range. The practice has been illegal in Minnesota since 1991.

The Legislature added the one-year loss of hunting privileges last year. A second conviction within three years results in a three-year license revocation. Also, the revocation period doubles if the conviction is for a trophy deer.

Those caught baiting also could face fines of $300, plus $80 or so in court costs. Another $500 can be tagged on for restitution if a deer is seized.

New DNR wildlife chief

Paul Telander of Bemidji, a 28-year wildlife management veteran of the DNR, has taken over as the Fish and Wildlife Division's wildlife section chief.

Telander has been regional wildlife manager for the DNR's northwest region since 2005. Before that, he spent 21 years as manager or assistant manager of the 55,000-acre Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area

Telander will oversee a $47.2 million annual wildlife section budget and a staff of 220 full-time and 81 part-time employees. With personnel based in four regional and 38 area offices, the section carries out research and management programs affecting wildlife species and habitat.

Doug Smith • dsmith@startribune.com

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