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Is it a crime to hunt outside the season in Minnesota?

In our state and across the nation we have what are called regulatory laws. These types of laws tell citizens what they can and cannot do legally and are based on policy rather than moral judgment. Numerous in quantity, there are likely hundreds of thousands of regulatory laws currently on the books -- many of which may be completely unknown to our Minneapolis readers.

Take for example the regulatory laws concerning fishing and hunting. Are you able to list them all? Probably not. But despite your unawareness of the entirety of the law though, you could still accidentally violate the law and suffer the consequences as a result. By asking this next question, we hope to help today's readers avoid accidentally violating the law or at the very least know what to expect if you do.

Is it a crime to hunt outside the season in Minnesota?

For those who don't know, hunting and fishing regulations are governed by the Lacey Act, which was established in 1900 and amended in 2008 to include a variety of plants and plant products. The federal Act prohibits the unlawful taking or selling of fish and wildlife. Violators can face criminal and civil charges under the Act, which may include fines, hunting and fishing license suspensions, and even time in jail in some cases.

The Lacey Act is often applied in instances where fish and wildlife are taken out of their respective season. It can also be applied in cases where a person takes more than their license allows as well. In Minnesota, as well as is the case in other states, this can constitute poaching, which is a criminal offense in our state.

How poaching may lead to a felony charge one day

If you follow the news like we do, then you may remember hearing about Gov. Mark Dayton's push for a bill that would increase poaching penalties in our state. He wants poaching penalties to be upgraded to felony status for hunters who take $2,000 or more in fish and game. This amount would be based on the state's restitution values, which have been in effect for more than 20 years.

Whether the bill passes or not, hunting outside the season can lead to criminal charges in our state, which is something we hope all of our readers keep in mind always.

Sources: The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, "Lacey Act," Accessed Aug. 14, 2015

The Star Tribune, "Should worst Minnesota poachers be charged with felonies?" Doug Smith, May 7, 2015

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