Participants in Minnesota’s firearm deer season will be greeted with new penalties for baiting violations when they go afield Nov. 3.


“It seems that every year our officers are spending more and more time responding to complaints about baiting or discovering it while on patrol,” said Lt. Col. Rodmen Smith, Minnesota DNR Enforcement Division assistant director. “We hope these new penalties curb what has become an all too common violation.”


Deer baiting is placing food near deer stands or clearings with the intent of luring a deer into close shooting range. It has been illegal to bait deer in Minnesota since 1991.


DNR conservation officers issued 144 citations, gave 24 warnings and seized 134 firearms/bows in baiting related investigations during the 2011 bow, firearms and muzzleloader seasons. It’s the highest number of baiting citations issued during the deer hunting seasons since the DNR began tracking these violations in 1991.


The Minnesota Legislature recognized the negative impact of baiting deer and recently passed legislation to increase the penalties for those convicted of baiting deer.


“It was apparent that a fine and forfeiture of a firearm or bow was not enough to curtail the activity,” said Smith. “In order to show the seriousness of the offense hunters will be subject to license revocation when convicted of baiting deer.”


The new penalties for baiting:


A person may not obtain any deer license or take deer under a lifetime license for one year after the person is convicted of hunting deer with the aid or use of bait. The DNR’s Electronic Licensing System (ELS) will also block a person’s ability to purchase a license. A second conviction within three years would result in a three-year revocation.


The revocation period doubles if the conviction is for a deer that is a trophy deer scoring higher than 170 inches.


The fine for illegal baiting is $300, plus $80 or so in court costs. Another $500 can be tagged on for restitution if a deer is seized. Guns may be confiscated as well.


Smith said he is hopeful the new penalties, in addition to fines, restitution and confiscation of guns sends a message that Minnesota values it natural resources and there is a price for engaging in this illegal activity.