Hunters will have more opportunities with new regulations this season

Sarah Bunich
St. James Plaindealer

Last week the new hunting regulations booklets for this season were released by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Hunters this year will be seeing a few changes based on what they will be hunting.

The DNR is offering a variety of hunting skills webinars for the upcoming hunting seasons.

DNR Officer Dustin Miller said one of the biggest changes for this season is the teal regulations. Minnesota has not had a teal season since Federal regulations made in the 1960's only allowed southern states in the Mississippi flyway to hunt teal. In 2014 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved an experimental teal season in four states in the upper midwest, including Minnesota. 

2021 teal season will be the first of a three year experimental hunt. Data DNR offices will be looking for during these next three years are going to be harvest rate to compare them to regular season waterfowl, and surveys of the hunters to find out what they are bagging and seeing while out hunting.

Teal season will run from September 4 to 8 have a six-teal bag limit per day and have different shooting hours compared to the regular waterfowl seasons hours.

"The unique thing with this is that the shooting hours are from sunrise until sunset," Said Miller " Normally the water foul season opens an half hour before sunrise and closes after sunset."

The extended hours for waterfowl was done to simplify regulations and provide hunters with more opportunities. It will also help get more hunters and harvest rates to go up, to help with the duck population which has been above average for a while. 

Teals are not the only waterfowl who has changes coming for the 2021 season. Canadian Goose bag limits have changed from last season, hunters now will be able to bag five. Miller said Canada Goose bag limit increase came from the population in Minnesota remaining high for two decades.

Hunters who are goose hunting this year can hunt over water, this is a statewide change, though Miller said the change primarily impacts a small amount of Minnesota that would not impact Southwest Minnesota. 

Minnesota's split season for the south zone is changed a little with the dates. South zone will open September 25, like the rest of the state, and will close on October 3. Second half of the season will open on October 9.

Decoy regulations have changed starting this season motorized decoys can be used during youth waterfowl season and the entire regular waterfowl season. Wildlife Management Areas allows the use of remote control decoy.

Hunter and trapping regulations with boundaries and permits have changed, Miller said Watonwan County is not affected by these changes. Boundaries around the county are still a lottery based permit sections. 

Coyote hunters are now allowed to use night vision equipment. They can not be used while hunting other animals. They can only use the night vision equipment outside of firearm season.

For a full list of the regulation changes, check out both booklets on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website at dnr.state.mn.us.