Hunters reminded of deer blind rules

GLADSTONE — The USDA Forest Service welcomes hunters to the Hiawatha National Forest. According to Forest Service personnel, most hunters are responsible and follow the rules, however there is growing concern about the incidence of abandoned (or so-called ‘permanent’) blinds on National Forest System lands. Illegal blinds pose several risks including safety hazards, environmental damage and hunter conflicts.

Hiawatha National Forest Supervisor Cid Morgan offers several reminders to hunters who use hunting blinds and stands on National Forest lands. First, review the state hunting regulations which require that:

– Hunting blinds and stands on public lands must be portable and temporary.

– Hunting platforms cannot be affixed or attached to any tree by nails, screws, or bolts and screw-in tree steps are illegal, meaning it is unlawful to use any item that penetrates through the bark of a tree in the construction or affixing of any device to assist in climbing a tree.

– Blinds and stands can be placed no earlier than Sept. 1, 2017 and must be removed by Jan. 1, 2018.

– The name, phone number and address of the owner must be posted on the blind/stand.

– Failure to remove any type of blind, structure, equipment or trash can result in fines, costs, and removal, destruction, impoundment and/or seizure of those items.

“In the midst of hunting season, we thought it timely to remind hunters that the hunt is not over when they’ve bagged their deer. Responsible hunting includes removing your blind from public land no later than Jan. 1, 2018,” said Morgan.

Hunters using blinds on National Forest System lands should also be aware that there are some differences between hunting on state land versus National Forest land. For instance, hunters should remember that all wheeled motor vehicles, including off-highway vehicles (OHVs) are allowed only on National Forest roads and trails shown open on the forest’s current year Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM). Consult the current MVUM to determine which roads, trails and areas are currently available for motorized use. The map is updated annually and is available free of charge on the web at: www.fs.usda.gov/goto/hiawatha/mvum.

– Motorized travel is allowed on designated routes only. All cross country motorized travel (off of the designated routes) is prohibited on National Forest System lands, even for baiting or retrieval of game.

– Cutting branches, limbs, trees, or other vegetation for shooting lanes or to construct blinds is prohibited.

– Guiding on National Forest land requires a federal special use permit.

“We want to make sure hunters are aware of Forest Service regulations regarding impoundment, which apply to the process of removing blinds from national forests,” said Morgan.

Abandoned property, including blinds left in place beyond the state’s removal date, can be impounded as soon as seventy-two hours after they are discovered.

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