As of Jan. 1, hunting and trapping will be allowed in all state parks, trail and other natural areas, but in a much reduced level compared to the original intent of the Sporting Heritage Bill. Tuesday the Natural Resources Board voted to allow hunting and trapping in state parks from November 15th to December 15th and also from April 1st through the end of the third turkey season of the spring. The porting Heritage Bill (Act 168), signed into law in April, originally recommended opening parks for hunting and trapping from Oct. 15 through the Thursday prior to the Memorial Day weekend. Since this is a significant departure from the original intent of the bill, this may not be the last word on the issue.
The NRB voted to limit the original bill in large part due to the overwhelmingly negative public response. Of the 2,033 public comments the DNR received, were 1,949 opposed to the bill and 64 people from all over the state registered to speak at the meeting – a new record. According to the DNR, many of the people who objected to the bill even threatened to boycott state parks. After seriously considering the comments of the numerous advocates for both silent sports and for hunting, the NRB unanimously voted to limit hunting and approved only dog-proof traps.
Unchanged are the provisions that prohibit hunting and trapping within 100 yards of a designated use area such as a campground, picnic area, trail or beach, or where there are public safety concerns, or to protect unique habitat.
Depsite the record hours of public testimony opposing the bill, prior to the vote, the author of the amendment, Rep. Jeffrey Mursau (R-Crivitz) continued to defend his bill to the NRB:
“My amendment changed arbitrary closures; reversed the presumption all state parks automatically closed to hunting. Hunting, fishing and trapping are constitutional rights in the state of Wisconsin. Regardless of what you hear today, peace and quiet are not constitutional rights.”
The law goes into effect on January 1st 2013. It is unclear at this time if the ruling of the NRB will stand, so the Bike Fed will continue to keep attention on the issue. Some concerns our members still have with the implementation of the law are the duration of the archery season and the logistics of enforcing the 100 yard buffer zones around the designated special use areas. Stay tuned to this blog for more information on how the WDNR implements the NRB’s recommendations and on the reaction from the state legislature.
For the official DNR news release – click here: http://dnr.wi.gov/news/BreakingNews_Lookup.asp?id=2597