Vegetables lead to Deer Baiting Allegation

The Snow is finally melting and we are in the middle of Turkey season. Soon crops will be planted and those hoping to harvest a deer next fall will be out in the woods preparing the land, fixing deer stands and preparing for one of Minnesota’s annual hunting traditions. As you go out to prepare for the fall hunt, if you intend on creating food plots, be sure you know what the law is in Minnesota. Read the case below to see how the simple use of rotting vegetables made for one frustrating experience.

St v Hansen (CT APPS, A11-546, 11-21-2011, St. Louis Co)

Deer Hunting, Bait, Minnesota Statute § 97B.328

Defendant, a farmer and deer hunter, was convicted of deer baiting for hunting deer on his land. The Defendant had discarded vegetables he placed out in the field to rot and fertilize the soil. The Defendant raises vegetables and sells these to local grocery stores and produce stands. Defendant then his uses unsold vegetables as fertilizer on his land.

Minnesota Statute § 97B.328 is related in full below. In this case, The Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed the conviction after applying the stature. The Court of Appeals found that the Defendant’s practice is a customary and usual farming practice, which is exempted by the statute. Therefore, even if the rotting food may have had another benefit to the farmer, in particular as a hunter, The Court of Appeals found the statute was ambiguous as applied to the Defendant. As the statute is ambiguous to the citizen, the government does not get the benefit of the doubt and the conviction violates due process.
The Conviction is Reversed.
97B.328 BAITING PROHIBITED.
Subdivision 1.Hunting with aid of bait prohibited.
A person may not take deer with the aid or use of bait.
Subd. 2.Removal of bait.
An area is considered baited for ten days after the complete removal of all bait.
Subd. 3.Definition.
(a) For purposes of this section, “bait” includes grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, hay, or other food that is capable of attracting or enticing deer and that has been placed by a person. “Baiting” means placing, exposing, depositing, distributing, or scattering bait that is capable of attracting or enticing deer.
(b) Liquid scents, salt, and minerals are not bait if they do not contain liquid or solid food ingredients.
(c) Agricultural crops from normal or accepted farming, forest management, wildlife food plantings, orchard management, or other similar land management activities are not bait. This exclusion does not apply to agricultural crops that have been reintroduced and concentrated where a person is hunting.
Subd. 4.Exception for bait or feed on adjacent land.
A person otherwise in compliance with this section who is hunting on private or public property that is adjacent to property where bait or food is present is not in violation of this section if the person has not participated in, been involved with, or agreed to baiting or feeding wildlife on the adjacent property.