Sportsmen’s groups applaud Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act

Sportsmen’s groups are applauding a bipartisan bill introduced today in Congress to improve hunting and fishing access on federal lands and conserve fish and wildllife habitat.

Introduced by Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 includes Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., among its co-sponsors.

Here’s what sportsmen’s groups had to say about the legislation:

Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership:  “America’s sportsmen are frankly gratified by the enthusiasm shown by the sponsors of this legislation for addressing our community’s priority issues, and we welcome the introduction of this bipartisan bill in the 114th Congress.
“Hunting and angling in the United States depend on the conservation of important fish and wildlife habitat and ample opportunities for the public to access that habitat. This bill would realize both of those objectives while also ensuring strong, reliable authorization for key management programs. The TRCP looks forward to working with our new Congress to achieve goals from which all citizens stand to gain.”

Steve Williams, president of the Wildlife Management Institute, former director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and UND graduate: “The Sportsmen’s Act recognizes the contributions that hunters and anglers provide our economy and the national workforce. The act provides some simple fixes that would improve hunting and angling and advance fish and wildlife conservation. I hope Congress will act quickly to pass the bill and acknowledge the tens of millions of hunting and fishing families across this nation.”

Becky Humphries, chief conservation officer of the National Wild Turkey Federation: “We are thrilled that this bipartisian legislation has been introduced early in the 114th Congress. The NWTF is dedicated to working with these members to pass this important legislation.”

Chris W. Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action:  “Preserving our Second Amendment freedoms and hunting heritage is the core of the NRA’s mission. The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 advances those efforts. On behalf of our members, I want to thank Senator Murkowski for her leadership on this issue. As a result of her hard work and determination, this important legislation is one step closer to becoming law and preserving America’s outdoor heritage.”

DNR postpones AIS training and trailer decal program

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced this morning that it will postpone the new aquatic invasive species training and trailer decal program that was due to launch at the end of the month while legislators consider changes to the program, the agency said in a news release.

Under a law passed by the state Legislature in 2012, anyone trailering a boat or water-related equipment such as docks and lifts in Minnesota is required to take aquatic invasive species training and display a decal on their trailer. The effective date is July 1.

Here’s the rest of the news release:

“With the legislative interest in this educational program and ongoing discussions about possible changes, we are postponing the launch until we see if the Legislature acts this session to modify the program,” said Bob Meier, DNR assistant commissioner.

The DNR supports the education that would be provided under this law, but recognizes there are some concerns with the way the law is currently written. For example, people transporting boats on trailers through Minnesota to another destination are required to take the course and display a decal even if they don’t put their boat in Minnesota waters.

Since the training and decal are currently not required until July 1, the DNR wants to remind people that there will be time to see what happens legislatively and still take the course and receive decals. The agency will post any updates on trailers and alert the media if there are any program changes.


DNR to further tighten Upper Red walleye limit

This news release from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources concerns upcoming changes in Upper Red Lake’s walleye limit:

Beginning Friday, Jan. 23, walleye regulations will become more restrictive on Upper Red Lake because of a record December walleye harvest, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The daily bag and possession limit will be two walleye, and anglers must immediately release all walleye
17- to 26-inches long. Only one walleye in possession may be longer than 26 inches. The current regulation allowed three walleye in the daily bag and possession limit.

Walleye fishing pressure and harvest continue to increase on Upper Red Lake despite more restrictive angling regulations that were implemented on Dec. 1, 2014.

“Fishing pressure in December was more than double compared to last December,” said Gary Barnard, Bemidji area fisheries supervisor. “High walleye catch rates and ideal ice travel conditions attracted a record number of walleye anglers to Upper Red Lake this winter.”

Walleye harvest is up 57 percent from estimates for a comparable time period last year, requiring some action to help curtail excessive winter harvest.

Upper Red Lake harvest restrictions are necessary to comply with a joint walleye harvest plan agreement with the Red Lake Band of Chippewa. For more information on Red Lake fishing regulations, see