New law allows fishing without a license in some parks

Two new laws in Minnesota will affect hunters and anglers around the state starting on Wednesday.

Fishing in many Minnesota state parks will be allowed without a license, except in water where a trout stamp is required, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. A basic fishing license used to cost $17 a year.

"By eliminating the fishing license requirement, it is our hope that those who have never fished before will try it during their state park visit," said Dave Schad, Department of Natural Resources Fish and Wildlife director, in a statement.

Night bowfishing also will be allowed statewide from May 1 to the last Sunday in February, with limitations on noise and distance from structures. And people who are 90 years old or older may take fish without a license.

Doug Pirila, a fishing guide based in Duluth, welcomes the change. "It's part of our heritage here in Minnesota," he said. "In single-parent homes, I don't think they have the time or the money. Anything that gets more people to fish is a good thing."

The new hunting rules include:

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- Changing the electric motor restriction while in waterfowl feeding and resting areas from one with 30 pounds of thrust or less to one that is 12 volts or less;

- Allowing a person with a valid bear license, prior to the Saturday on or nearest to Sept. 16, to leave a portable stand in a wildlife management area within 100 yards of a legally tagged and registered bear bait site;

- Allowing free deer licenses to be issued to residents with qualifying military service. The licenses allow the taking of deer of either sex;

- Removing the restriction on possessing crossbows outdoors, and removing casing requirements in a motor vehicle during open seasons for game;

- Establishing new gun casing exceptions that apply when hunting and transporting a firearm; removing casing requirements for bows provided they are not armed.

- Allowing the commissioner to issue permits to disabled persons to hunt from a vehicle that is valid for the life of the person, if the disability is irreversible;

- Extending the hours for placing decoys when hunting waterfowl to two hours before lawful shooting. Hunters may not leave decoys unattended during shooting hours for more than three hours.

For a complete listing of the changes, visit the innesota DNR.