Bear Baiting Debated In MN Legislature
Contact Your Legislator If You Want To Support The BillLarry Schumacher/St. cloud Times, Bear Hunting Magazine
|The Bearbuster Advertisement|
ST. PAUL -- A Stearns County-manufactured bear-bait dispenser would be legal to use in Minnesota bear hunting, if a bill that got its first examination Monday in the Minnesota Legislature becomes law. Mike and Kirsten Lucken of Albany are co-owners of Bear Busters Inc., a Paynesville business that got its start a year ago and makes the automated bait dispenser.
But while bear baiting is legal in Minnesota, the Luckens haven't sold their product here because the Department of Natural Resources believes the $799 steel cabinet-shaped device might conflict with the part of the law that requires using only biodegradable materials.
Senate and House versions of the bill from Rep. Larry Hosch, DFL-St. Joseph, and Sen. Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, drew fire Monday from people who say using bait to attract an animal amounts to setting up an ambush. Others oppose the increasing use of technology in hunting.
Supporters say baiting is the only practical means of controlling the
state's black bear population. "We've sold this throughout the United States and in Canada," Mike Lucken told a House committee Monday. "It's still hunting. The bear may not come for the food," Lucken said.
Minnesota's black bear population is about 20,000, according to DNR estimates. About 95 percent of bear hunters use bait, but their success-rate average is below 35 percent, lower than deer hunters. The bill would allow reusable metal containers, as long as they restrict scavengers from taking the bait and are removed by the end of the bear season.
The dispenser wouldn't contribute to littering because hunters aren't likely to leave something that expensive behind, said Ed Boggess, DNR deputy director of fish and wildlife management. "But it does introduce one more level of technological advancement into bear hunting," he said. That rewards lazy hunters, said Linda Hatfield, a Minneapolis animal rights activist who testified against the bill. "It's like shooting fish in a barrel," she said. "Where's the sport in it?"
Both committees held the bills over for possible inclusion in game and fish bills, Hosch said.
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