At last month's Natural Resources Board meeting, the board approved several wildlife management questions that sportsmen and women will see this spring during the Wisconsin Conservation Congress and DNR Spring Hearings. The questions were presented by regulation policy specialist Scott Karel. Six advisory questions were approved to be asked on the spring hearings questionnaire in April. They are as follows:
1. Do you support the use of lure/bait for trapping furbearing animals through nuisance wildlife control work conducted during closed season?
Currently, lures and baits are not allowed outside of the trapping season. The exception is for a landowner who can use these aids to hunt or trap a listed species on that landowner's property. The exception does not apply to agents of the landowner. The intent of this law is to allow nuisance wildlife control agents the ability to use lures/baits in trapping of nuisance furbearing animals on private as well as public property. This would cover things such as a nuisance trapper attempting to trap a beaver on public property adjacent to roads that where that beaver is plugging a culvert, for instance.
2. Do you support the placement of traps, snares, colony traps or cable restraints at any time within 15 feet of any beaver dam found on private land, with written permission from the land owner?
Currently, the law does not allow placement of traps at any time within 15 feet of any beaver dam, other than enclosed trigger traps. There is a landowner exception, but the exemption does not extend to an agent of the landowner. The United States Department of Agriculture - Wildlife Services (USDAWS) also has an exemption. Other trappers, such as nuisance and fur trappers, however, do not. This rule would allow both groups to trap on a beaver dam on private property with written permission from the landowner.
3. Do you support a rule change allowing raccoon incidentally taken in beaver sets, during the beaver trapping season and after the close of raccoon season, to be legally kept?
Currently, muskrats caught during the beaver season may be retained by the trapper, but not raccoon. Allowing the possession of raccoon would be similar to this already existing rule. Trap-type restrictions would allow law enforcement to determine if raccoons were being specifically targeted during the beaver season. Allowing trappers to keep incidental raccoon catches would reduce incidental calls to wardens and allow those raccoons to be salvaged.
4. Do you support a noon daily closure on public properties stocked with pheasants to reduce hunting pressure on birds immediately following stocking?
This rule would create a noon closing of daily shooting hours on public properties stocked with pheasants rather than the current 2 p.m. closing time. This would go into affect from the third day of pheasant season through November. The current 2 p.m. regulation was put into place to allow staff to stock birds without hunters pursuing them straight out of the stocking truck. However, staff limitations and logistics necessitate DNR staff to commence stocking earlier, This rule would remove hunting pressure until the next morning.
5. Do you support restricting the transportation of deer harvested in a CWD-affected county to within that CWD-affected county or an adjacent CWD-affected county, unless the carcass is taken to a licensed taxidermist or meat processor within 72 hours?
Carcass movement restrictions have been put into place to prevent tissues most likely to harbor CWD prions (the infectious, misfolded protein) from being introduced to areas where CWD has yet to be found. Since 2009, regulations have been put into place to allow movement only within that management zone or to an adjacent management zone, unless taken to a licensed processor or taxidermist within 72 hours. With the advent of moving from larger DMUs to county boundaries in 2014 and CWD management zones were changed to CWD-affected counties. "Affected" counties may not have had a CWD-positive test, but were within a 10-mile radius of a positive test. This allows for a much greater area where hunters could move a deer from a CWD-affected county. This rule change would limit that movement and would return the restriction to the intent of the original rule. This would minimize the risk of CWD prions with the carcass to counties that have not had a CWD-positive test but are simply listed as "affected" due to proximity to a positive finding.
6. Do you support reducing the time during which the wildlife refuges in NR 15.002 are closed (except for firearm deer hunting) to Sept. 1 to the end of the waterfowl season?
The rule currently in place has established a "no-entry" to wildlife refuges from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31 on properties regulated by NR 15.022. This would include the Powell Marsh in Vilas County. This proposed rule would have those refuges closed to hunting except for gun and muzzleloader deer hunting from Sept. 1 to the end of the waterfowl season. The modification was originally to allow trappers early access to muskrats, but also allows other users access to these wildlife refuges as well. The change, according to the advisory question, is not thought to have a significant impact on waterfowl that use the refuge.
These are the six advisory questions from the DNR that sportsmen will find on their spring hearings questionnaires in April.
More questions to be found on the questionnaires will be published in this Outdoors section in the month of March. Sportsmen and women are encouraged to attend their county meetings in April to let their voice be heard on all subjects of fish and wildlife management going forward.
Beckie Gaskill may be reached via email at email@example.com.
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