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Shutdown causes fishing license dilemma for anglers

With the state’s computerized fishing license registry closed during the shutdown, tourists coming to Minnesota to fish have a problem.

If they didn’t get a license before the shutdown, the Duluth paper wonders if they’ll risk casting a line and getting caught by conservation officers (who are working during the shutdown) or do they pack up the tackle box and head home?

Bait shops and resorts are seeing the effects of this strand of the shutdown mess, the paper says:

…those in the tourism business aren’t pleased with state leaders in St. Paul whose deadlock over budget issues caused the shutdown.

“It’s a political temper tantrum,” said Shari Baker, who owns Gunflint Pines Resort on the Gunflint Trail with her husband, Bob Baker.

She wonders why the state couldn’t have improvised to let resorts and outfitters write paper licenses during the shutdown. In the past few years, nearly all licenses have been issued through the DNR’s Electronic Licensing System, a computer-based process.

“One gentleman drove up here and would have stayed for the night,” Shari Baker said. “But he said, ‘I can’t imagine not fishing,’ so he didn’t stay. So, it’s costing not just us but the state, too.”

 If out-of-state guests show up without Minnesota licenses, some resort owners are quietly suggesting the people go fishing anyway, figuring that conservation officers won’t ticket an angler who couldn’t have anticipated the shutdown and wasn’t able to purchase a license. 

That’s a big question: Will conservation officers actually write tickets or just issue warnings. Those officers have been told not to talk on the record to the media, the paper said.

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