ST. PAUL, Minn. — The state Supreme Court ruled that fishermen have a reasonable right to privacy in their ice-fishing huts and conservation officers must get permission before entering to check for fishing violations.
The ruling, released Thursday, stemmed from an incident in Rice County, south of here, in which a conservation officer doing a routine spot check entered an ice-fishing hut and eventually charged an angler with fishing with an extra line and possession of marijuana.
Charges were dismissed on the grounds that the officer violated the man's right to privacy.
"The occupant of a fish house is entitled to the protections against unreasonable search and seizure afforded by our federal and state constitutions," Justice Edward Stringer wrote in the court's unanimous opinion.
During winter, ice houses are common on Minnesota lakes. They range from simple canvas shacks to several rooms with carpet, beds and appliances.
While someone is in an ice house, activities of a "personal nature" take place, therefore that person can reasonably expect privacy, the court said.