MN fishing, hunting license digital photos could soon be accepted as proof

Fish houses out in winter (FOX 9)

Those who hunt and fish in Minnesota could soon be able to prove they have purchased a license by simply having a photo of their purchase on their phone.

A new law sponsored by Rep. Emma Greenman (DFL-Minneapolis) would temporarily allow a person to use a digital image of their game or fish license as proof of possession of the license itself.

After hearing from several constituents and fellow lawmakers about the uneven process of paper license enforcement by Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officers, Rep. Greenman told FOX 9 she believes the law would be beneficial for every Minnesotan to be able to further enjoy the outdoors.

"Currently it’s unequal whether or not needing a paper license is enforced, and this would make it uniform across the board," Rep. Greenman said, offering an anecdote in which fellow Rep. Kristi Pursell (DFL-Northfield) purchased a license for the annual pheasant hunt with Gov, Tim Walz, only to forget the paper license at home and not be allowed to participate as a result. "Officials have been instructed not to enforce [needing a paper copy], but we’ve still heard stories about people getting citations in different circumstances."

Similar to frustrations heard about keeping track of COVID-19 vaccine card, Rep. Greenman believes the stop-gap bill will help ease one burden on Minnesotans trying to hunt.

"I personally have a cellphone, credit cards and all sorts of other stuff in my purse that I’m always worried about forgetting," Rep. Greenman said. "Many Minnesotans have the same problems as me."

The proposed change would remain in effect until March 1, 2026, when the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will be required to offer paperless licensing options.

"This is a good common sense bill that will get everybody on the same page, with a unified rule until the new system is implemented," Rep. Greenman said, noting both DNR officials and colleague lawmakers have provided support for the idea. "It’s just one thing less for people to have to worry about."

The proposal may be considered as part of a larger bill on the environment.