Trappers Sue Minnesota DNR to Challenge Non-Resident Trapping Ban

Trappers have filed a lawsuit against the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, stating that the department’s restrictions on trapping are unconstitutional. The group behind the lawsuit has distributed a press release detailing the reasons they’re pursuing the case. The full release is below.



Five fur trappers from other states have recently filed a lawsuit to require the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to allow them to trap beaver, muskrats and other fur bearers on the same terms and conditions as Minnesota residents.

The Minnesota law prohibits non-Minnesotans from engaging in trapping except on land owned by the trapper.

“We just want to be treated like any other trapper – whether he is from Minnesota or any other state,” said Robert Waddell, a plaintiff in the case. “It isn’t fair that only Minnesota residents should be able to trap.”

“The Minnesota law is doubly unconstitutional,” said Bill Peterson, a Bloomington attorney who has successfully challenged unconstitutional DNR law in the past. “The statute requires nonresidents to trap only on land they own and bars nonresidents who don’t own land from trapping. The law does not have a property ownership requirement for Minnesota trappers.”

The case has been filed in Ramsey County District Court in St. Paul. It is a declaratory judgment lawsuit which means that the trappers are asking the judge to find the law unconstitutional and void.

In addition, there are several Minnesota trappers who are plaintiffs who allege that because of the Minnesota law, they have not been allowed to trap in neighboring states including South Dakota and Iowa.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs claim that the Minnesota law is an unlawful restriction of interstate commerce, that the law denies them the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States and that the law denies them equal protection of the law.

“Our lawsuit does not dispute the right of Minnesota or any other state to reasonably manage their wildlife resources,” says Waddell. “Our argument is that trappers from other states should not be treated differently from Minnesota trappers.”

Attorney Peterson expects a court decision on the constitutional challenge later this year or in 2013.

Donations are accepted. Please send to Bob Moctinski, P.O. Box 536, Winsted, MN 55395. Make checks payable to Peterson Law Office, LLC.

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12 thoughts on “Trappers Sue Minnesota DNR to Challenge Non-Resident Trapping Ban

  1. I grew up in the middle of Minnesota. I now live in South Dakota and I would love the chance to go back to my parents place to get in some trapping for raccoon, mink, beaver and muskrats that have been getting a little out of hand. My dad is getting a little older and can’t get out to do that any more.

  2. I have a good friend in SE Minnesota who has invited me to come up and call furbearers, they too are illegal for non-residents to harvest with the exception of coyotes. i would love to be able to go call with him and take advantage of the red fox population that still exists in MN. This could be one step closer to that becoming a reality.
    The beaver population is dwindling in my part of SW Missouri and i know MN has a great to too many population. I would think the DNR would welcome trappers. states in the south encourage it. Good luck fella’s!

  3. It would be a good thing to let out of staters into the state also, the ones that is in MN could go to orther states if they like .I am in Iowa and some day I might want to go to MN to trap . But the way the state is with that law how can anyone go .All should be under the same laws no matter what state you are from if you trap in that state .

  4. There are two sides to this as always – Our state allows nonresident trapping. In recent times, our trapping season has been rather nonchalant, we know who traps where, what they like to trap, and we leave each other alone – cause we have always trapped around each other. However, this past year we had a bunch of high rollers come through my home area because of high muskrat prices. They brought trailers, and one ton trucks full of traps. They started the day it opened in October and trapped til it froze up. Rumor was they caught 6 thousand rats and lots of other fur.. They trapped tons of unprime fall fur while we locals are used to waiting for it to prime up. They covered all the state and federal areas and any private land they could – nothing illegal but it left really no place for us to trap. They left a bad taste in our mouths cause we think we should have home turf advantage and actually were pushed right out of the hunt. So maybe out of staters should have limits but be allowed.
    On the other hand, I read an article in a magazine about a couple guys making a trip back home to their home state when they were kids to trap rats for two weeks – setting a couple hundred traps – and enjoying the trapline. That’s great and no limits or turf wars over that.

  5. I am originally from Minnesota. I now live in Wyoming. Wyoming allows a trapper to trap in Wyoming if the trapper’s home state would allow a Wyoming trapper to trap in their home state. I think if Wyoming or another state allows a Minnesota trapper to trap in that state, then Minnesota should be as accomodating and allow the Wyoming, or other state trapper to trap in Minnesota also. But I think it should be a two way street, if you don’t, we don’t , but if you do, then we do. That seems to be a fair policy in my opinion.

  6. it’s a states rights issue, not a trapper’s issue. trappers from other states don’t have the right to tell any other state how to run things. the residents have a voice, not the outsiders. be carefull what you wish for, do you want to have to buy a “federal” trappers license? i’m from Wisconsin.

  7. What are the Minnesota trappers afraid of? I trap in several states with friends and they are welcome to come to N J and trap with me. I have never had a problem, and I hope I never do, with another trapper trapping near me. It just works it self out.

  8. If you want to trap in Minnesota move there and become a resident. We live here to enjoy what the state has to offer. I’m a trapper and hunter and it is frustrating when people try to move in on other trappers areas. It’s tough enough as it is. Minnesota doesn’t need people from other states coming to trap. If there is ponds in the area I live that aren’t being trapped one year it’s probably because it was hit hard and being left to repopulate and manage the fur bearers.

  9. I do enjoy hunting other states and would like to trap other states to catch some fur bearers Minnesota doesn’t have. Maybe a limit should be a thought about for nonresidents. I’ve seen people go to south dakota last year for muskrats and do lots of damage to the population and disrespect the trespassing laws. Good for the people that take the time and make a living trapping and are ethical about but not everyone is respectful. There should be some strict rules on species limits and permission laws brought up in the decision.

  10. I live in Wi but have a lot of family and friends who live in Mn. I would love to go there and trap with them. I myself would not be a out of state long liner trapping all over the state but im sure some would. I know what its like to have another person come in and set traps at all the locations I have been trapping for years so I think it would be ok to impose some sort of limits or restrictions for non res trappers but im really not sure what they should be or how to enforce them.

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