From its formation in 1980, the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association (MDHA) has been a vocal advocate on behalf of Minnesota’s deer and deer hunters. It has a unique role as an advocacy organization on political issues that differentiates MDHA from other deer organizations.
To be clear, all of the major deer groups do a number of wonderful things that support habitat, education and the tradition of hunting.
But MDHA is truly unique in Minnesota in that it takes clear positions on political issues that are being considered by Congress, the Minnesota Legislature and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
In contrast, one of the leading national deer organization has a resolution that specifically states it will not become involved (with rare exception) in controversial issues that are decided in political or regulatory venues. The resolution goes on to provide many reasons for declining to become involved in specific issues.
The point here is not to criticize other organizations. Rather, it is to emphasize the critically important role that MDHA plays in advocating on behalf of Minnesota’s deer and deer hunters. Think of how underrepresented Minnesota’s deer hunters would be if MDHA didn’t take official positions at the annual Corporate Board meeting and didn’t advocate for those positions at the Capitol through our members’ annual Day on the Hill and our hired lobbyist.
MDHA’s presence at the Capitol is clearly felt and respected.
At MDHA’s 2017 Day on the Hill, MDHA had over 30 members actively lobbying legislators all day and dozens of legislators, including Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt, attended MDHA’s reception. In fact, when one of the legislative leaders was offered a copy of MDHA’s fact sheet, he replied, “I don’t need it – I agree with all of your positions.”
To illustrate the important work that MDHA has done on behalf of Minnesota’s deer and deer hunters, read on to look at a number of issues that MDHA has voiced its views and the results of those efforts. The examples represent some, but not all, of the issues that MDHA has fought for at the Capitol and other venues. MDHA members should take great pride in their efforts and know that no organization has done more for Minnesota’s deer and deer hunters. Let’s continue our efforts and increase our great work!
Legislative Audit and Deer Plan
In 2015, MDHA urged Minnesota’s Legislative Auditor to conduct an audit of DNR’s deer management. MDHA also called on DNR to establish a statewide deer management plan. As a result of the urging of MDHA and others, the Legislative Auditor conducted an audit of DNR’s deer management in 2016. One of the key recommendations in the audit was for DNR to prepare a deer management plan. At the beginning of 2017, DNR embarked on a year-long deer planning effort and appointed two MDHA representatives to the 20-member advisory committee. MDHA is the only organization with two members of the committee.
Deer License Dollars Dedicated to Deer
It has been a long-standing frustration for MDHA that only a very small portion of deer license dollars are dedicated to accounts that specifically benefit deer. In fact, of the $30 current cost of a Minnesota deer license, only $3.50 goes to accounts dedicated to deer and another $0.50 is allocated to wolf management. These frustrations led the MDHA Morrison County Chapter to put forward a resolution requiring a significant portion of license revenue to be dedicated to deer. The resolution overwhelming passed at the MDHA Corporate Board. At the same time, DNR was seeking to increase the price of a deer license to $34. As a result of these circumstances, MDHA took the position that it would support an increase on the condition that $17.50 (or 51% of the price) of the $34 deer license be dedicated to accounts benefitting deer along with the removal of the $0.50 allocated to wolf management. At the end of the 2017 Legislative Session, DNR accepted MDHA’s position in writing and the Legislature passed the increase as a result.
Scopes on Muzzleloaders and Portable Stands Overnight on WMAs
For years, MDHA has advocated for all hunters to be able to utilize scopes on muzzleloaders and for portable stands to be permitted to remain overnight in large WMAs in northern Minnesota. MDHA’s efforts have now born fruit. In 2017, the Legislature passed, and the Governor signed into law, bills containing these provisions.
Chronic Wasting Disease
At the 2017 Corporate Board, MDHA took a strong position that all efforts should be made to aggressively protect Minnesota’s wild deer herd from chronic wasting disease (CWD). Included in this position was a call for the Board of Animal Health (BAH) to work more cooperatively with DNR to protect wild deer and for a review of BAH regulations pertaining to captive cervids. Subsequent to the Corporate Board, several press articles highlighted additional concerns relating to BAH’s oversight of captive cervids. As a result, MDHA wrote to the Legislative Auditor requesting a review of BAH’s oversight and enforcement of Minnesota’s captive cervid law. The letter stated in part: “Minnesota’s deer hunters and DNR are doing their part to protect the state’s wild deer. . . . Minnesota cannot afford to have these efforts undermined by the ineffective administration or enforcement of Minnesota’s farmed cervidae statute.”
The Legislative Auditor agreed to conduct a review of BAH’s oversight of the captive cervid law, and a report will be issued in the Spring of 2018.
Annual Corporate Board Meeting
Each year on the last full weekend of February MDHA holds our annual Corporate Board Meeting to discuss business pertinent to MDHA and our members.
Activities that take place during the Corporate Board Meeting are: Approval of the past year’s minutes, approval of the Annual State Budget, election of State Officers, voting for approval/rejection on proposed resolutions & amendments and bylaw changes, reports from Committee Chairs, guest speakers, staff speakers, additional business items both old and new.
Those in attendance at the meeting are:
MDHA Executive Committee & Board MDHA Chapter State Directors/Alternate State Directors MDHA Chapter Officers/ Members Officially Invited Guests
Bylaw amendments and resolutions may be submitted by MDHA chapters and committees anytime throughout the year with a submission deadline of the close of business on the first Monday in December to be considered and voted on at the February Corporate Board meeting.
Resolution & Bylaw Amendment Process
Once all bylaw amendments and resolutions are submitted by the December due date they are brought forward and discussed at the December Executive Board meeting. At this point, the Executive Board will vote to either support or oppose each of the submitted bylaw amendments and resolutions.
All submitted bylaw amendments and resolutions will be presented and discussed at regional meetings in January, including the Executive Board’s votes and supporting reasons for their votes. The information that is gathered at the regional meetings will be brought back to local MDHA chapter meetings where chapter members will vote on how they would like their chapter’s delegate to vote and represent their chapter at the corporate board meeting. This is why it is important to attend chapter meetings so your voice is heard. Contact your local chapter for the date and time of its next meeting.
A chapter’s votes are based on their current chapter membership. A chapter must have a minimum of 26 members for one (1) vote, with another vote added per each fifty (50) members after that.
A resolution is passed with a majority vote. A bylaw amendment must be passed with a two-thirds (2/3) vote.