Hunting, fishing and harvesting are popular activities in Minnesota. Many people think it is their right to do these activities without any restrictions but this isn't the case. You need to find out what licenses, permits and regulations are applicable to your chosen activities.
Failing to comply with hunting and fishing seasons, licensing requirements and other regulations can lead to criminal and civil penalties. Not only do you have to worry about the state's laws, you also need at least a basic understanding of the Lacey Act, which is a federal law that protects wildlife and plants.
Who monitors hunting, fishing and harvesting in Minnesota?
The Department of Natural Resources and its officers are responsible for ensuring people are lawfully fishing, hunting, harvesting and doing related activities. The officials, often referred to as game wardens, can ask people participating in these activities for their licenses. They can also check on the bounty of the activities, such as verifying that only allowable fish were caught. Failing to cooperate with these officials can lead to serious penalties.
What related activities are covered?
The DNR is responsible for water recreation and boating regulations, as well as those for snowmobiles and off-highway vehicles. The two harvesting categories covered by DNR are wild rice and ginseng. It is imperative to know the regulations. For example, diggers should know that they can only harvest ginseng from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31 each year. It can't be harvested before the berries are mature and bright red or if there are fewer than three true prongs, or leaves.
What happens when violations occur?
In some cases, the warden will be able to use their discretion to decide how to handle a situation. For a person who honestly didn't know they were breaking the law and who was cooperating with the officials, a warning might suffice. When the natural resource law violation is particularly serious, if the person has a history of violations or if the individual is uncooperative, a criminal charge might be levied.
The penalties for violation of the state's laws and the Lacey Act range from having to pay fines or being incarcerated to losing your right to carry a firearm for the rest of your life. Sometimes, people think these violations are minor but they are actually serious and must be treated as such.