Pawlenty Rejects Game, Fish Bill

A governor’s veto means Minnesota landowners will not be paid to allow hunters on their property.

Also, anglers will not be allowed to use two lines to fish and spearing northern pikes in Cass Lake will not be allowed. And controversial walleye regulations for a lake where an influential state senator has a cabin will not happen.

Those and other proposed game and fish provisions will remain off the books after Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed a natural resources bill.

“Several provisions in this bill reflect legislative overreach by attempting to set arbitrary hunting and fishing management policy, despite the recommendation of the Department of Natural Resources experts,” Pawlenty wrote in a Tuesday night veto letter.

“Signing this legislation into law would condone an approach that establishes a harmful precedent for managing our natural resources and undercut public confidence of the process,” he wrote.

Tim Goeman, Department of Natural Resources regional fisheries supervisor in Grand Rapids, was glad to hear that Pawlenty vetoed the bill.

“There were a number of things in there that were very troublesome,” Goeman said. “The reason it got vetoed — and the (DNR) commissioner put it in a letter — is that legislators are micromanaging the DNR. Truly, if they want to do that, we don’t need the DNR.”

Goeman specifically mentioned some closures to bank-fishing on some lakes and rivers as examples of troublesome aspects of the bill.

“Several access points were closed to bank fishing…” he said. "There were certain user groups that were targeted there. I won’t say more than that, but that’s on the verge of racism."

Also, he said, the DNR had opposed opening Cass Lake to winter fish spearing, as the bill would have done.

“That would have been devastating on the northern pike population,” he said.

Goeman said it is a relief that Pawlenty’s veto kills special fishing regulations on Fish Lake near Duluth.

State Sen. Satveer Chaudhary, DFL-Fridley, had secured the special regulation by asking the bill’s House author, Rep. Dave Dill, DFL-Crane Lake, to insert it during a floor debate. It would have increased the stock of larger walleyes in the lake.

Chaudhary, who owns a home on Fish Lake, told the Duluth News Tribune he promoted the regulations after receiving inaccurate information that a majority of nearby residents wanted the change, but later admitted the information may have been wrong.

Pawlenty said parts of the bill were valuable and he ordered Natural Resources Commissioner Mark Holsten to work on them administratively.

One item Holsten will investigate is an initiative that would pay landowners for allowing hunters to use their property.

Information in this story comes from the Bemidji Pioneer and Duluth News Tribune.