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Conservation Corner From the Wisconsin Conservation Congress

Conservation Congress/DNR to host annual spring hearings, April 9

Wisconsin Conservation Congress LogoThe Wisconsin Conservation Congress will offer citizens the opportunity to weigh in on dozens of hunting, fishing and trapping issues at the annual spring hearings held in all 72 Wisconsin counties, April 9, 2012. All meetings convene at 7:00 p.m.

The spring hearings include the election of delegates to the Congress. There are five delegates from each county, two of which are elected each year to either a two-or three-year term. Also included for the first time this year is a town hall forum during which citizens can submit their ideas about how to streamline and simplify the regulations and identify barriers to participation in hunting, fishing and trapping.

Here is an overview of some of the questions included on this year’s questionnaire:

Creation of a public/private antlerless deer system: The question responds to the perception that public lands endure greater hunting pressure than do private lands. The WCC has heard complaints about hunters going on public land to harvest a doe, then return to private lands to hunt bucks.  The question asks if the public supports separate permits for private and public lands in any DMU with an antlerless quota.

Use of handheld artificial lights while predator hunting: Coyotes, foxes, raccoons and, more recently, wolves have considerable impacts on other species. This question asks if the public would support using artificial lights to hunt predator species with these restrictions: minimum 200 feet from vehicle; hunter must be stationary while scanning; use a predator call and be clearly engaged in predator hunting; and, used when no deer seasons are in effect.

Weapon option for deer, bear and turkey:  Would allow use of a rifle, shotgun, handgun, muzzleloader, bow or crossbow under the authority of the Gun Deer License and Class A Bear License and would allow the use of a crossbow under the authority of an Archery License if the person is 55 years of age or older.

Make landowner preference turkey tags property specific: Current law allows use of landowner preference tags to be used anywhere. Some have suggested this creates conflict in areas where limited public land is available.

Sturgeon spearing preference point: Many hunting programs allow for preference points. This would allow the same prerogative for sturgeon.

Sandhill crane season: Sandhill crane populations in Wisconsin have grown in size and in some areas have created a threat to agriculture. Other Mississippi Flyway states are petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for a hunting season.

Allowing trolling with suckers while position fishing statewide: Trolling is currently illegal statewide. Some, especially musky anglers, would like to troll with suckers or other fish bait while casting and retrieving artificial baits. 

Allow statewide coyote harvest during firearm season: This measure would eliminate the closure of the coyote season in Wolf Management Zone 1 in northern Wisconsin during the firearm season.

Capture Pittman-Robertson money for shorting ranges/Shooting range initiative: Concerns over safety and the on-going maintenance of shooting ranges throughout Wisconsin caused the Conservation Congress to establish an ad hoc committee to research the problem and offer suggestions. One question on the ballot focuses on capturing funds through Pittman-Robertson which are authorized but not used in recent years and another on establishing a coalition of DNR, WCC and other user groups to promote shooting sports.

Panfish limit: Concerns about overharvest of panfish led the Congress Executive Council to propose a question on limiting bag limits which would include no more than 10 crappies, 10 bluegills, and 20 yellow perch.

A complete listing of this year’s spring hearing questions is available on line at www.dnr.state.wi.us.   Click on Conservation Congress. More information about the Wisconsin Conservation Congress including meeting agendas, minutes, awards and organizational structure is also available.

For comments about the content of Conservation Corner, contact Lee Fahrney, Conservation Congress secretary at (608) 967-2208 or at fiveoaks@mhtc.net.

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