Minnesota DNR outlaws remotes for waterfowl decoys


Mar 11, 2001
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DNR outlaws remotes for waterfowl decoys
Minnesota will study use of 'Robo Ducks'
By John Myers, News Tribune staff writer

The state of Minnesota is moving to curb the use of remote controls for electronic waterfowl decoys and will study "Robo Ducks'' next year on the way to potentially banning the devices for hunting.

Department of Natural Resources officials announced Tuesday that the use of remote-control devices for electronic, rotating-wing decoys will be considered illegal this year under existing Minnesota statutes.

Minnesota's law didn't change. But the DNR's interpretation of the law has. So has use of the decoys, which is increasing rapidly nationwide.

State statutes prohibit the use of radio devices to take big or small game, including waterfowl. The remote controls that send radio signals to turn the rotating wings on and off will be considered illegal, said Jeff Lawrence, a Bemidji-based waterfowl specialist for the DNR.

The only exception to the prohibition of radios for hunting is for electronic dog collars.

"They (waterfowl hunters) can still use the decoy under the current law, just not the remote control,'' Lawrence said.

But the use of all rotating-wing decoys is under scrutiny in Minnesota. On Tuesday, the DNR also announced its intentions to formally study the use of rotating-wing decoys during the 2002 Minnesota waterfowl season. The devices, which offer spinning or flapping wings, simulate a duck or goose landing and apparently encourage other ducks and geese to follow.

Some hunters say the devices work amazingly well to attract ducks within shooting range and that they may violate codes of fair chase. Others say the decoys are only another tool in a hunter's bag.

"It will be a controlled field study, not a survey, where we can control the hunting conditions, turning them (the decoys) on and off and such,'' Lawrence said.

Missouri and California have conducted studies on the use of electronic decoys that found hunters who use them take more ducks than those who don't.

Lawrence said it remains unclear if the devices are affecting overall waterfowl populations. If the studies are accurate, he said the decoys likely do affect harvest distribution enough to warrant consideration on hunting regulations such as season lengths and bag limits.

On Aug. 4, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted a ban on waterfowl hunting with battery-powered or electronic decoys. Commission Chairman Russ Cahill, who was among the six in favor of the ban, called it a "fair chase'' issue.

California's Fish and Game Commission voted Saturday to ban motion decoys until Dec. 1, about halfway through the state's waterfowl season. The California study found that the decoys had the most effect in early weeks of their season when hunters who used them shot about twice as many ducks as those who didn't.

"The ban affects the first half of the season so we can take a look and compare this year to last year,'' said Steve Martarano, spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Game. "We had a series of public meetings on this over the past year and the consensus is that these things do have an effect, but no one knows how much.''

In Minnesota, only about 10 percent of waterfowl hunters used the electronic decoys last season. In some states, however, more than 60 percent of hunters use them, Lawrence said.

Duck Fan

Well-known member
Mar 26, 2001
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I wonder if by next year the Feds step to the plate and outlaw them all nationally?  If each individual state does their "own thing" this whole Public relations mess will just bite us in the end.  I am tired of reading about it in local papers and it just gives more 'ammo' to the anti hunters to keep 'their message' alive.

jerry d

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Mar 17, 2001
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I could care less about reading about them in the local newspapers. My concern is with the reporters that write the articles getting their fact straight.

Reporter in our little local newspaper stated, "they draw ducks to the blind like dust". Like dust???  Now even the most ardent anti moto duck hunter knows that's a bunch of bull.

I still say the "general public" doesn't give a damn about moto and it's all the "dust" that duck hunters themselves keep kicking up about the subject that's most likely to catch the publics eye. All the non hunting friends that I've talked too haven't read about them, wasn't even aware that they existed and could care less when we discussed the subject.

Most even thought it was pretty funny and quite ingenious for someone to come up with such an idea.

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