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Missouri senate passes bill to allow 'noodling'

By Maria Hickey, KWMU

St. Louis – Legislation expanding Missouri's hand fishing regulations has passed the state Senate, although there's debate over whether the General Assembly has authority to regulate the practice.

Last summer the Department of Conservation began allowing hand fishing, also known as noodling, on three rivers in Missouri.

This year Senator John Cauthorn (R-Mexico) is sponsoring a bill that allows the sport on all Missouri waters where line fishing is allowed.

But Denise Garnier, assistant director of the Conservation Department, said the state's Constitution gives the Conservation Commissioners the sole authority to set regulations on harvesting fish and wildlife.

"It certainly creates the grounds to review that to determine if a violation has occurred," Garnier said.

Garnier said the four commissioners, appointed by the governor, have not discussed the legislation. But she said the courts have ruled with the department is past cases.

Senator Cauthorn ssaid the three rivers opened to hand fishing were not acceptable.

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