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FishingRebel

Does the DNR still have the right to search your boat?

45 posts in this topic

Anyways, to make a long story short. I was fishing Mille Lacs and got 3 fishes around 16 to 17 inches during the day time. Later in the evening, a DNR boat pulls up to my boat, and mine only (there was like 6 or 7 other boats in that area) and they checked my fishing license...Then after that, they asked if I caught anything, I said yes, and they DEMANDED to see those fishes as well.. The point is, with the privacy law that was enacted to fishing in the late 90's, does the DNR still have the right to search your boat without any search warrants? I didnt do anything wrong, but it just pisses me off that they were pulling next to me during the prime evening bites and wasting my fishing time because they were asking me to open up my live wells and coolers, and probably scaring all of the fishes away in my area as well..

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Just my thoughts...

If you have done nothing wrong or illegal and have nothing to hide, I would let them do there thing and be on their way as quickly as possible. They're just doing their job.

The DNR seems to always randomly check only a few boats and rarely all boats in the area. So I personally wouldn't be angry at that, there were probably many other times that you were not checked, but others around you were.

Like I said earlier, just my thoughts. The DNR can check me anytime they want.

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Seems to me they were just doing their job. Be thankful that they are on the lake checking people. Probably didn't take 5 to 10 minutes of your time. Small price to pay for the privilege of fishing. Don't be such a "rebel", just kidding cool.gif

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I dont know if its legal or not but I also have been checked and they asked if they could check my fish and I told them no problem as I had nothing to hide.

If the CO's cannot check ones boat, that is really unfortunate as they need to, to catch the people taking the wrong fish or too many. I personally am glad they are checking more and I hope they continue to.

What would upset me more than checking me would be all the people taking too many or fish out of the slot and getting away with. The DNR has a very diffucult job to do to protect our resourse for the sportsman and I will help out in any way that I can.

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The DNR picks one boat, out of six for a reason. Once I saw one DNR boat pull into Big Island on Minnetonka and they were checking licenses and boat registration. All of a sudden, a bunch of boats started leaving. And yes all the other DNR boats pulled over all those other boats, giving tickets for Drinking and driving, non-registered boats and many other infractions. They see who scatters or starts reoranging their boats because is sends up the warning signals. I am very glad they are out their keeping everyone honest. Obviously you had nothing to hide and it really shouldn't have taken more than 5 minutes. I have been check over 10 times and they have been nothing but nice and fast.

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You're best bet is to hurry up and let them check so they can move on. If you say no then you are gonna send up red flags. Make them spend some more time there and let them check the things you can't hide. Sooner or later they'll find something to stick you with or create "probable cause" and that is all that is necessary for a search.

Search warrants are not required if they have probable cause and they are still in the process of checking you for their original reason. A cop only needs cause to search your car on the side of the road, they don't call a judge and wait for a warrent. The DNR is the same way.

If they wanted to search your boat in your garage when you're not out fishing, then they would need a warrant.

Everyone always gets mad that they only checked 1 person and "there were tons of boats". Its true and it sucks, but someone had to get checked. Maybe it was random and maybe there was someone watching you fish who called the DNR for some reason.

The only thing that will make your life easier is cooperate, unless you have something to hide.

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Seems to me the only people that are bothered by this are the ones with something to hide.

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IVe been stopped by the dnr on vermilion many times and they have not once asked to see my fish. They have asked if i caught any fish and check for life jackets and boat licenses. They have always been friendly up there.

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I believe on lakes with a slot limit just putting fish in the livewell is probable cause. By them checking you it sends the message that they are checking boats and that makes people follow the rules, or would you rather they not check anyone?

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if you tell them that you have fish in the boat it is probable cause to search for those fish. If they want to, it is always up to the co's, but when a slot is involved they like to see the fish more times than not just to make sure. I don't know anymore but years ago game wardens didn't need a search warrent to search anything(house,car, camper,and boat) as long as they had probable cause. Just remember they are only doing their job.

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i don't mind them checking either but i was slowed for the fifth time this weekend at the access for the aquatic hitch hiker speech. i know its needed to get the word out and get people checking their trailers/motors etc., but whats the point of the sticker if they're still going to bother you everytime you launch??

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It's probable cause just because you caught fish? Now that is funny...! I guess they should just come invade houses any time they want as well, if they fish, then it should be probable cause too right? lol The definition of probable cause is a strong reason to believe that a person has done something illegally, which means that catching fish, is definitely not probable cause!

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Don't get carried away rebel. The statement was that keeping fish on a lake with a slot means that you may have kept an illegal fish....therefore, resonable cause to search. If you keep fish you have to prove they are legal size.

I know you're upset because they bothered YOU, but lets be honest, if they check 10 out of 10 boats including you, you would still be crabbing about it here.

It happens to everyone at some point and its rarely convenient. It doesn't do any good to try and catch fisherman during the heat of the day when no one is fishing. Its just like them checking you while you are out hunting.

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Same reason you cant get a DWI unless you drink. They have probable cause if you swerve a little...whether your over the limit or not, you subject to a breatha lizer....probable cause.

If you fish, you are using your license issued by the DNR, there for you are subject to the rules and regulations of that licence and the body governing it. like it, keep fishing...dont like it, suggest you find another past time. smirk.gif

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Quote:

Don't get carried away rebel. The statement was that keeping fish on a lake with a slot means that you may have kept an illegal fish....therefore, resonable cause to search. If you keep fish you have to prove they are legal size.

I know you're upset because they bothered YOU, but lets be honest, if they check 10 out of 10 boats including you, you would still be crabbing about it here.

It happens to everyone at some point and its rarely convenient. It doesn't do any good to try and catch fisherman during the heat of the day when no one is fishing. Its just like them checking you while you are out hunting.


I think you are the one who is getting carried away.. The point is you cant argue "probable cause" lol... What kind of argument is, "if you keep fish you have to proove they are reasonable size." Where does it say this in the law books? You really have no argument here..Isn't it INNOCENT UNTIL PROOVEN GUILTY? lol NOT GUILTY UNTIL PROOVEN INNOCENT, like the way you put it! Now the real point is, I have been checked many times before, and was never treated the way i was.. Therefore, I asked people on here if they have experienced the same thing... That's all man.. I KNOW you are getting carried away.. I took many law classes in college, what about you?

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This is why I could never be in law enforcement (also not smart enough). I couldn't deal with the people bitcxxg about them just "doing their job" or complaining about profiling. In my experience, "they treat you - like you treat them". Now my disclaimer "always an exception". Now, if I was checked opening morning in my deer stand, boy that would be a different story. grin.gif

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The DNR has every right to check your boat along with the fish present in your craft. The court cases regarding privacy rights apply only to fish houses not boats because boats are not considered a dwelling as is a fish house. the DNR can enter your boat check your fish and does not need your permission. It is advisable to give such permission however as you can be ticketed for not allowing the DNR to check your fish. shocked.gif

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The ruling

Supreme Court OK's boat searches

by Elizabeth Stawicki, Minnesota Public Radio

September 25, 2003

A divided Minnesota Supreme Court ruled game wardens may inspect fishing boats without probable cause that an angler is violating fishing regulations. However, a dissenting justice said the ruling opens the door for warrantless searches by any police officer on the mere suspicion that the individual is, has, or will hunt or fish.

St. Paul, Minn. — Writing for the majority, Justice James Gilbert said fishing is largely a recreational privilege that anglers choose to engage in knowing the regulations. And the court's decision merely acknowledges that it's unreasonable for anglers to have an expectation of privacy in all parts of an open boat used to store and transport fish. The ruling overturns a lower court decision that found such inspections violate constitutional protections against illegal searches.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources enforcement chief, Col. Mike Hamm called the Minnesota called the ruling a victory for the fishing resource. He said during the period when the court had barred game wardens from inspecting boats without cause, anglers refused to allow officers to check their catch, particularly on lakes such as Mille Lacs where fishing restrictions are in force.

"When we'd start moving into some of the lakes that are fisheries have begun management for the good of the population and that's where we were running into folks that'd say, 'you know, you've had a chance to take a look at my fishing license and thank you very much, I'm not going to show you what my catch is," Hamm said.

The decision stems from the case of angler and northern Minnesota attorney John Colosimo. On a fishing trip at Kettle Falls near the Canadian border, Colosimo encountered a conservation officer while moving his boat between portages. He told the officer he had been fishing on Rainy Lake and was transporting his catch. But when the officer asked to inspect the catch, Colosimo refused. The officer issued him a citation carrying a fine of $137.

Colosimo did not immediately return phone calls. But when he argued his case before the Minnesota Supreme Court last March he told justices that the case was not about circumventing the law.

"I support game and fish laws, " said Colosimo. "I absolutely abhor those who violate those laws in any significant way; this is not about that. This is about individual rights; it's about turning over 40 years of case law on its head in terms of search and seizure under the fourth amendment."

Writing in dissent, Justice Alan Page said the majority wrongly forces individuals to choose between waiving their constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches or engaging in the privilege of hunting, fishing, trapping or possessing wildlife. Page reminded the court it struck down sobriety checkpoints because suspicionless stops were unconstitutional under the Minnesota constitution. He said the boating decision implicitly concludes that the state's interest in protecting its wildlife resource is more important than in protecting human life by deterring drunk driving.

William Mitchell Law Professor Peter Erlinder said up until this ruling, the Minnesota Supreme Court has been quite protective of 4th amendment privacy rights. He said the opinion appears to suggest that if the object of a government search is important enough, search and seizure protections don't apply.

"Typically when government acts they need probable cause or at least reasonable articulable suspicion. But this seems to indicate that we can create exceptions to that general rule. And if exceptions can be created for game enforcement principles, we could certainly use it in other areas as well," said Erlinder.

A year ago the same court ruled conservation officers were NOT allowed to search ice fishing houses without probable cause. But Gilbert said the minimal intrusion in a boat is markedly less when compared to the search of a private, home-like fish house.

Justice Paul Anderson wrote separately that the court should leave to another day, the right, if any, an officer has to inspect MORE than open sections of a fisherman's boat. Justice Sam Hanson took no part in the decision.

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Thanks for the informative post in regards to this issue.

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It sure is funny how someone can make a 5-10 minute conversation with a CO a major life event. So what if he stopped during the evening bite, fishing is not a life and death matter. You were not in a tournament with $100,000 on the line, you were just out catching a few fish. Don't take everything so seriously.

Let the CO's do their job, if you are within the law the worst thing that happens is that you have a short conversation with some guys that have an interesting job, CO's are usually really fun to chat with.

Frankly after all those law classes you took i am surprised you didn't already know they had the right to search your boat.

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I would never have a problem showing my fish.....mostly because it is easy to open an empty cooler.....Just kidding. They are doing their job, protecting the lake, and keeping everyone honest. The only reason anyone would object to showing the CO the fish is if they were not following the rules. Showing fish is not an invasion of privacy, it is not an illegal search and seizure. They do not need a warrant. You do not want to mess with the DNR, they have more power than the police do. If they catch you breaking the law (has to be pretty severe), they can take anything you used to commit the crime. That includes your boat, rods, truck...anything. It all gets sorted out later in the courts, but you don’t want to get a CO mad at you.

One quick story. I had a CO in ND come check us in a duck blind at first light. I was a little angry that he was messing up the best time, but you know what, it was going to happen whether I liked it or not. He was checking our shells, but saw a group of birds coming into our spread. He handed us a couple shells and told us to go ahead and shoot. Of course we only got one of the three.....never could shoot with an audience. We talked to him and thanked him for letting us do that. He said, he was not here to ruin the hunt, but rather make sure we were safe and following the rules. He then told us about a little pot hole he had found just up the road with 300 mallards in it. CO’s are on the side of honest sportsman/women. Our licenses pay for their jobs, they don’t want to deter their income or the sport.

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well said trophy!

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me to let them do their jobs go dnr

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I'm glad someone found the exact truth on the matter.

Yes I have experience on the law classes as I am going to school to become a CO. I also volunteer at the Conservation Officer Academy up at Fort Ripley to help with scenarios for the new CO's to practice. I may not have the right words on the matter but I know the law.

I have received a ticket from a CO before and I wasn't happy about it then and I am still not happy about it, but the law is the law and it applies to me too. I don't want to make this a debate about the bill of rights.

If you felt you were mistreated by the CO then the phone number for the officer and his supervisor are posted for the public on the DNR's webpage. Call it and make a complaint.

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I think Alan Page's opinion was interesting. He basically said that if you participate in hunting fishing or trapping, you automatically give up some of your rights under the Minnesota Constitution. It's a random search just like roadside sobriety checks. I understand where most people are coming from that the DNR needs to be able to do its job (and I agree), but this is about privacy. If there is no reason to suspect me of comitting a crime, then I don't want to be forced to let the authorities look through my posessions. It also sets a precedent. If a ruling like this applies to fishing, then why can't it apply to other aspects of our lives. There are a lot worse things than overlimits of fish that authorities could use to justify invading our privacy for.

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