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Is there a border war a-brewin'?

9/4/2003

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty asked an interesting question recently: Do we need to retaliate against North Dakota for its hunting laws against Minnesotans?

Gosh, I replied, I'd hate to see Minnesota's leaders acting as childish as North Dakota's leaders have been … but maybe it's time for a border war.

We could launch an invasion by sending Jesse, our most famous SEAL, under the Red River to erect signs in Fargo: No Fishing in Minnesota.

Sounds silly? Yes, but silly laws against Minnesotans don't seem to bother North Dakota's lawmakers.

Here's the rub: This fall, North Dakota has aimed more hunting restrictions at nonresident (read: Minnesota) pheasant and waterfowl hunters. The first week of the waterfowl season, opening Sept. 27, is closed to all nonresidents (read: Minnesotans).

Nonresidents are only allowed to hunt waterfowl 14 days, of which only seven days may be hunted in certain zones. Nonresident pheasant hunters will only be allowed to hunt 10 days per license.

Oh, by the way, waterfowl and pheasant license fees have been nearly doubled. In their hurried passion to penalize foreign pheasant hunters (read: Minnesotans), the lawmakers mistakenly passed a law that bars nonresidents from all hunting (pheasant, deer and duck) from Oct. 11-17 on public or PLOT lands. (The PLOT lands, by the way, were leased with mostly license dollars from nonresidents, which means those who paid to hunt are now banned for a week.)

To resident North Dakota hunters, the game of gouge the nonresident (read: Minnesotans) makes sense. However, to North Dakota's dying farm towns and businesses, a law that keeps out nonresident hunters or caps the money they can spend must seem like lunacy.

What's more, where is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in this North Dakota duck debacle. Are North Dakota's restrictions fair, when most of the state's best waterfowl production lands were paid for by all of America's duck hunters, not just North Dakotans?

So, maybe it's time. Send in Jesse. For the 45,000 North Dakotans who buy Minnesota fishing licenses, here's what Gov. Pawlenty ought to do: Raise the $34 fishing license to $100 for only 10 days of fishing.

We'll have a border truce when North Dakotans and Minnesotans are gouged equally.

Ron Schara may be reached at ron@mnbound.com.

Schara's new 250-page book, "Ron Schara's Minnesota Fishing Guide" (Tristan Outdoors; $19.95) is available by clicking here or by calling (888) 755-3155.

July through September 2003, Ron Schara's show "Backroads with Ron & Raven" airs at 8:30 a.m. ET Sundays on ESPN2, while his short feature of the same title runs Saturdays on ESPN2 at 7:55 a.m. ET. Click here to view this week's show descriptions.