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DNR and WCC spring hearings to be held across the state April 9

Dean Hall/lakeland times

Several of the questions on this year’s spring hearings questionnaire involve the registration of non-motorized watercraft like the kayaks seen here.

Each year outdoorsmen and women are asked several questions regarding the management of the state's fish, wildlife and natural resources at the DNR and Wisconsin Conservation Congress (WCC) spring hearings. The meetings are held at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of April in every county across the state. The Oneida County meeting will be held at the James Williams Middle School in Rhinelander. The Vilas County meeting will be held at the St. Germain Elementary School and the Iron County meeting will be held at the Mercer Community Center.

At each meeting WCC delegates up for election will be voted upon. Residents may complete the spring hearings questionnaire in any county in the state, but may only vote on WCC delegates in their county of residence.

In the past few weeks, most of the questions on the spring hearings questionnaire have been printed in this Outdoors section. Here are the remaining questions on which attendees will have the opportunity to weigh in:

From the Legislative Committee:

Do you support the Legislature and the DNR working together to require a Wisconsin Guide License applicant to show proof of insurance?

Do you support the Legislature and DNR working together to require a Wisconsin Guide License applicant to show proof of First Aid/CPR training?

According to the background provided with these two questions, "Under Wisconsin law, individuals who guide, direct or assist other individuals in hunting, fishing and trapping are required to have a Wisconsin Guide License. Currently there are no provisions for client safety or liability and no requirement for First Aid/CPR training of proof of insurance."

Do you support the Legislature and DNR working together to raise Wisconsin Guide License fees from $40 per year to $250 per year with these fees earmarked for the Fish and Wildlife Account?

Because many guides throughout the state are making a living using the state's resources, many feel as though the current $40 license fee is not adequate. The state's resources, the background states, are being put under more pressure due to guide activity. For that reason, some feel the fee to make a living using these resources should be higher.

The next four questions are all in regard to non-motorized watercraft and ask if individuals support the Legislature and DNR working together to create a registration fee for non-motorized watercraft, asking for a "yes" or "no" on each of the following statements:

• All motorized watercraft should be registered.

• Anyone who purchases a hunting, trapping or fishing license would receive one non-motorized watercraft permit at no charge.

• Individuals who carry an active hunting, trapping or fishing license would not require a permit while using a non-motorized watercraft.

• Create a group rate for organizations with multiple non-motorized watercraft.

Boating accidents, investigations and enforcement are funded by the boating program. Currently, non-motorized watercraft users do not contribute to this fund but have accounted for approximately 33 percent of boating deaths over the last 10 years. Registration of non-motorized watercraft could help enforcement officials identify the owner of such crafts in the instance of an accident or at other times.

According to the question background, it is believed that 335,000 non-motorized watercraft are in use in the state each year. The committee would like to be able to consider these watercraft as a possible revenue source. Hunters, trappers and anglers who own one of these watercraft feel as though this would be an additional fee. Some organizations owning multiple non-motorized watercraft feel these registrations would be an undue burden if a group discount were not put into place.

Would you favor exploring the ability of pneumatic rifles and bows to be used for hunting large game in Wisconsin?

According to the background with the question, the range of a pneumatic rifle, with recent advances in technology, is equivalent to many bows and crossbows. They are also able to propel a projectile with more energy than some handgun loads. Other states allow hunting of large game with pneumatic rifles.

The last question on the spring hearing questionnaire comes from the wolf committee. The question is asked only as an advisory question should wolves be removed from the endangered species list and a hunting and trapping season is allowed, when management it returned to the state level.

Do you support changing the deadline for the wolf permit application to Dec. 10 for the wolf season the following year?

The deadline currently is Aug. 1 for a November season. This short window does not give trappers the time to become certified through a trapper education course, procure equipment and do the needed scouting before the season opens. This date change would also coincide with the bear and bobcat application deadline.

In all there are 54 questions on the spring hearings questionnaire. Some are specific to certain areas or waterbodies while others offer a statewide impact. Citizens in each county also have the ability to create citizen resolutions, which will be voted on in their county of origin. If those resolutions pass at the county level, they may then go on to be voted upon by the entire state at next year's hearings. More information regarding the spring hearings, as well as a downloadable questionnaire, go to the DNR website dnr.wi.gov and search "spring hearings."

Beckie Gaskill may be reached via email at bgaskill@lakelandtimes.com.


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