Fish and game bill would allow 'big buck' contests, limit thermal imaging use

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If you have a thermal scope you use for hunting deer (similar to Predator himself), you may soon have to leave it at home.

The House Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Finance Committee approved a wide-ranging game and fish bill that would prohibit thermal imaging equipment from being used while hunting deer, the Session Daily reported. Currently the law only prohibits night vision goggles.

The 26-page omnibus bill – defined as a proposal that addresses a variety of topics, usually constructed with a handful of smaller proposals – will be discussed at a Taxes Committee meeting set for 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.

In addition to the thermal imaging ban, the bill addresses a handful of other topics.

New funds would develop a licensing system for disabled hunter, the Session Daily said. Permanently disabled hunters can currently get a license that allows them to hunt; but this proposal would allow their disability status to be designated on the back of their driver's license, saving a trip to a hunting license seller.

There's also a bill by Rep. Carly Melin, DFL-Hibbing, that would allow legally harvested deer to be used in contests. The Gambling Control Board could license organizations to sell raffle tickets for the "big buck" contests, with the hunter that shoots the biggest deer winning the top prize.

Melin seemed pleased earlier this month on Twitter when the bill was advanced.

The omnibus bill would also make it illegal to remove a fox from a den (or trap one within 300 feet of a den) during the spring and summer, and gets rid of old, outdated language in Minnesota's current fish and game statutes, the Session Daily says.

The cost of the bill is $100,000, which is supported by sales of hunting and fishing licenses.

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