young woman foraging chanterelle mushrooms in wicker basket walking in forest
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Mushroom Hunters in Minnesota May Soon Have Bag Limits

The MDNR says bag limits would avoid over-collecting, but hasn't provided any evidence the fungi population is at risk.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is talking about implementing bag limits on foraging for certain wild mushrooms in state parks, thanks to the uptick in mushroom hunting and potential harm to the natural resource, according to MDNR officials.

These foraging rules would affect morel, chanterelle, and hen-of-the-woods mushroom hunters. The MDNR recently announced the plan to roll out these rule changes. It's also considering setting limits on berry picking inside state parks, including wild blueberries, gooseberries, serviceberries, raspberries, and cranberries.

The DNR says the proposal would be similar to the possession limits it already has on wild fish and game, and that it'd be policed in a similar manner. The limits would apply only to state parks, and not state-owned lands—for now.

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Why Is the MDNR Setting Bag Limits?

The limit is intended to avoid "overcollecting of resources," as Parks and Trails Director Ann Pierce told the Star Tribune. "With consumable resources, whether it's fish or deer or berries and mushrooms, you need to look at what you can logically harvest without hurting the resource."

Pierce said park staff has seen vegetation trampled and is also concerned about preventing the spread of invasive species.

While we're all about sustainable harvesting without harming natural resources, the DNR at this point has not pointed to any specific evidence of the fungi population being at risk.

Meanwhile, some foragers believe the proposed bans are a form of governmental overreach. One such forager is as Peter Martignacco, president of the Minnesota Mycological Society, a 1,000-member, 70-year-old foraging organization that promotes ethical mushroom foraging practices.

Martignacco told the Star Tribune that the DNR's overuse claims are unwarranted, and he points to a lack of evidence that fungi populations are in jeopardy. He believes that legal harvest limits could be the first step toward banning mushroom foraging in state parks and, eventually, in state forests and state wildlife management areas as well.

Martignacco thinks that rather than discouraging mushroom foraging, the DNR should instead promote mushroom-picking opportunities and encouraging this burgeoning interest among outdoor enthusiasts. Martignacco said new funding from the Minnesota Legislature this year was awarded on the premise of engaging more people to be in the outdoors. Foraging is a perfect way to do that, he believes.

Pierce said the DNR's look into proposed limits of mushrooms and berries foraged inside state parks is part of a larger review of park regulations, something that has not been done in nearly two decades.

"I am hoping we can get this out to the public at the beginning of next year," she said.

READ MORE: 10 Types of Edible Mushrooms to Forage and Cook With