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Bernie revering column: Proposed fishing law changes on hold

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The Minnesota legislature heard proposals for reducing the daily limits on walleyes from six, down to four. There was also talk of an earlier opening day. It was the DNR that had made both suggestions.

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There appeared to be some early support to both ideas, but when the Senate sub-committee took a closer look, it appears that both of the ideas are dead. The DNR had hoped that there would be more support for the lower limit. Out of state fishermen were heard from, and they've about all been against the idea. Many wrote from far away places and cited their expenses in driving here and spending a week at a resort. The reduction in numbers probably wouldn't really be a big thing, but anglers didn't support the proposal.

In regards to the earlier walleye opener, many did not like that idea. Usually, mid-May is still pretty cold and the walleyes haven't been famously responding. Water is still cold, and fishing doesn't get better until three weeks into the season. Both ideas are probably sending the wrong signal to out-of-state sportsman. Resorters don't like that.

Sportsmen's club trap shooting

The first two Thursday evenings have been cold, dark and windy. But there is a great deal of enthusiasm for the sport of trap shooting, as ten adult teams and three junior squads are on the line weekly.

There are several sponsors that we've not seen before. They list as follows. When they're not as bunched up in a few weeks, we'll put in the scores. The sponsors are:

Friesen's. Inc.

Jokela Auction Co.

Bristlin 8c Sons Construction

Kunz Law Office

Mountain Motorheads

B & M Electric

Hotel Shoreham

Greens Plumbers

Briard Construction

Disposal of the venison

Well known for his unselfish devotion to management of the Detroit Lakes food bank, it was a delight to visit with Jack Berenz at the gun club last week. "It was painful to dispose of 380 pounds of ground meat, which recipients would have enjoyed," so said Mr. Berenz. Authorities were aware of exactly how much were on hand and all of it is gone. The food bank here distributed 3,800 pounds of commercially processed game meat in the past year. It is indeed unfortunate that this very worthwhile public program had to end. Its reasonableness is in question, what with thousands of hunters serving venison meals to their families, the meats being prepared for the table by commercial processors -- for the most part -- without any questions as to its wholesomeness.

The fence on the border

The Department Of Homeland Security is proceeding with the design and construction of the l8 ft. high presumably impenetrable fence along the U.S.-Mexican border. The fence in place, it will supposedly hamper the illegal crossing of Mexican nationals, illegally entering the southern states such as Texas. At least one location, west of Brownsville, cuts through an important part of the Lower Rio Grande National Wildlife Refuge. The fence will cut off water and habitat for some important endangered species including the ocelot. In all, 17 endangered species are affected. There are 500 species of birds -- some of them rare -- butterflies and plants where this is the only place in America where they exist. All are at risk, say the biologists of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. They've blown the whistle, but the other U.S. Agency isn't taking heed. The fence will block river access with much of the wildlife so threatened ending up on the Mexican side. The bird lovers will need to go to Mexico to see many of the birds after the fence is erected. The areas affected are near McAllen, Texas, long a very favorite winter destination for Minnesota snowbirds. The fence will dangerously affect many threatened species, but plans are proceeding for construction of the l8 foot high barrier.

Is hunting losing out?

Yes, fewer hunters are buying licenses, duck stamps and permits to take a variety of game. Hunting is in a decline nationally. Anti-hunters have had a field day, gloating over the news circulated by a survey conducted on a wide basis. Hunters are getting older. The baby boomer years is generally considered to be persons born between 1946 and 1965. They became the heads of families, raised children, and went hunting. Now they're 40 to 60 years old; a time at which many park their guns and don't hunt any more. But many still do, and will be doing it for decades ahead. Yet, the sport of hunting is on a downhill curve, as there is less game to hunt and fewer available lands hunters have access to. The baby boomers were the folks in the fields and streams back in the 1970-1990 era and hunting was good.

Another factor often ignored is the urbanization of America. People are moving from rural areas into the suburbs of large population centers. Children in those households aren't as apt to take up hunting because dad is older, busier and away from the opportunities for hunting game. They're drifting away from this activity. The decline in hunter numbers appears to have begun about 1995, and it continues. The privatization of hunting lands, the increased expense for fuel and lodging and the necessity for diverting earned funds toward family maintenance than toward recreations such as hunting have all been contributing factors. Yet sporting firearms are being bought at the big box sporting goods houses in record numbers. Hunting is on a decline but there are plenty of avid enthusiasts still active in our aging populations. We won't get it back to its level that existed in 1990, but the sport is going to remain with us. Those who do give it a try for a first time, nowadays, are just as enthusiastic about it as many of us were in our heyday. Hunting is far from being a thing of the past!

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