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This is in todays Minot paper.Evidently the writer was in Elgin.I find the comments by the Cafe owner from Elgin interesting.Not all hospitality people are in favor of this.




Vocal opposition growing
Eighty people attend fourth public advisory board meeting

By: Patricia Stockdill
Editorial Staff Writer
Posted at 12:00 pm

ELGIN - North Dakota hunters opposed to pheasant season opening one week earlier have company from several west river landowners in the Elgin, Glen Ullin and New Leipzig areas.

Not everyone in the heart of pheasant country of southwestern North Dakota is ecstatic over Gov. John Hoeven's decision to move the season ahead. Landowners expressed several reasons for their opposition: traffic problems on rural gravel roads escalate significantly, farmers are still harvesting, economic impact benefits a minority of people, landowners waste an invaluable amount of time dealing with hunters - both residents and nonresidents - and there are many safety concerns given the number of hunters in the field.

Eighty people attended the Friday evening meeting in Elgin. It marked the fourth in a series of eight N. D. Game and Fish Department public advisory board meetings to garner input from people regarding the earlier opener.

Elgin farmer Marlow Maier has decided to solve the problem on his own - he is not allowing anyone, even friends, to hunt on his land until the regular season opening date. That would be Oct. 12 this fall.

Like the Minot meeting Monday, five people supported the decision. "It is our tourist season and we need to capture as much income as we can," said Lester Brackel, Mott.

The issue is one of east river hunters (east of the Missouri River) trying to dictate to west river people, he said. Open the season Oct. 5 in the southwest, said Brackel, and Oct. 12 everywhere else.

Bismarck guide Jim Nagel does not want the decision changed after the Game and Fish and Tourism departments published the Oct. 5 opener. "I don't believe this is a pheasant issue whatsoever. It's an access issue." Hunting on private land is privilege, not a right, said Nagel, and hunters should not complain about spending an access fee after gas, meals and other hunting expenses.

"How many local hunters have quit hunting because they don't have any place to go. Are our North Dakota hunters going to pay $5 for a duck when they make $5.25 an hour," countered Turtle Lake's Marshall Maxwell.

The non-native, gaudy rooster pheasant is big business. For Yvonne Peyer, owner of the Mott Motel, pheasant season means 66 percent of her income.

For some Regent area landowners, the success of a commercial hunting business also means a large portion of their livelihood.

But Ron Bartz, Elgin cafe owner, sees a different picture: "I feel I have to live here with the farmers and the people in the area. I'm here for them 12 months out of the year not four month...I want to support the people who don't want the earlier weekend...What's going to happen when these people start buying up all this land? It's coming, boys."

Next week, public meetings will be held in Devils Lake, Jamestown, Grand Forks and Casselton. From there, the Game and Fish Advisory Board and director Dean Hildebrand will make a recommendation to Gov. Hoeven, who said he will announce his decision in April.

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I braved the winter weather last Friday to make the trip from Bismarck to Elgin for the pheasant meeting. I would guess that the 80 or so people at the meeting were evenly split on their reaction to the proposed change to the opener. However, even some of those that testified in support of the earlier opener for 2002 were not definitively in support of making the change permanent. Some in support of keeping the earlier opener for 2002 were in the hospitality business, and they had already booked clients for Oct 5. The manager of a Mott motel, for example, said that she didn't care if the change was permanent, but it needed to stay in effect for this year because she has already booked her rooms.

Most of the testimony for or against the opener was not centered on the opener at all, but on fee hunting and nonresident hunting issues. I doubt whether any new information came up during discussion, and meeting basically served as an opportunity for some to vent. I got up and offered testimony on the issue just so I don't regret ever stating my opinion.

If folks want a more specific report, let me know.

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