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Letter: A fine of $165 for one over-limit sunfish?

To the editor:

According to Minnesota law, the restitution value for illegally possessed fish is $5 per sunfish. Any fish over 8 inches gets $10 added for every inch over.

Legislation mandates restitution for an "over the limit sunfish" at $5 each. However, an area game warden fined one sportsman $165 for a single sunfish, which was promptly returned to the lake. (He has since quit fishing and said, "It just isn't worth it.")

In another situation, a parent with young children was fined $185 for two over-the-limit sunfish. These two fish could have been returned to the lake but were instead "saved for evidence." The 10-year-old son was excited as he counted the sunfish.

They made a simple mistake. Since $165 us 33 times the restitution value of $5, I would say this is a violation of the Eighth Amendment. Are our legislators looking the other way?

Ronald W. Johnson

Carlos, MN