Not included in DNR proposals: statewide baiting, feeding ban

Clintonville, Wis. — A statewide ban on baiting and feeding deer is not part of the DNR’s proposed changes for Wisconsin’s 2014 deer hunting seasons.

That doesn’t sit well with a member of the Regulations and Season Structure action team that recommended the ban this summer.

Tony Janecek, of Cecil, attended one of 35 statewide hearings in Clintonville on Oct. 29 on the DNR’s recommendations stemming from the Deer Trustee Report and the agency’s proposed changes for the 2014 seasons. He was also one of more than 50 people who spent seven Saturdays from April through July coming up with recommendations from the report, issued last year by Dr. James Kroll.

“Those recommendations on the seasons and permits and so forth were good recommendations,” Janecek said. “Unfortunately, the DNR chose not to advance all of the recommendations by the committee and that really concerns me because nobody told us they were going to review these and take what they wanted.

“They told us all the way along that these were going to be the final recommendations in the report and they were going to go out to these public hearings,” he added. “It didn’t happen.”

A statewide ban on baiting and feeding is ultimately up the state Legislature. The action team voted 13-2 in July in Stevens Point in favor of the ban to give lawmakers some direction.

Baiting and feeding of deer is now banned in Adams, Barron, Burnett, Calumet, Columbia, Crawford, Dane, Dodge, Grant, Green, Iowa, Jefferson, Juneau, Kenosha, Lafayette, Manitowoc, Marathon, Marquette, Milwaukee, Polk, Portage, Racine, Richland, Rock, Sauk, Sheboygan, Vernon, Walworth, Washburn, Washington, Waukesha, Waushara, and Wood counties.

Mark Noll, of Alma, who served on the action team with Janecek, voted for the ban.

“I think the important thing when you look at Dr. Kroll’s recommendation, the key word is to resolve the baiting and feeding issue,” he said after the team took its vote in July. “Why do we need to resolve it? Because it’s tearing hunters apart and it’s tearing the hunting community apart.”

Janecek said the team spent a lot of time discussing the pros and cons of such a ban.

“Regardless of how you feel about baiting and feeding, the public is not going to be given a chance to express how they feel in these meetings because that recommendation – a very strong, highly supported recommendation of no baiting, no feeding – never was advanced,” he said. “Nobody in the state will be able to address that. It was one of the issues that Dr. Kroll said needed to be talked about. It is a big issue and

I’m really disappointed. I was there and I think that issue deserves to be talked about at public meetings. It was dropped off of our recommendations.”

Among the DNR’s proposals for 2014 are:

• Numerous changes in season structure and framework.

Proposed season dates for 2014 are: archery, Sept. 13 to Jan. 4 (current 2014 season dates are Sept. 13 to Nov. 20 and Nov. 22 to Jan. 4); archery (all metro zones), Sept. 13, 2014, to Jan. 31, 2015 (current 2014 season dates are Sept. 13 to Nov. 20 and Nov. 22 to Jan. 31); youth hunt, no change (current 2014 season dates are Oct. 4-5); hunt for hunters with disabilities, no change (current 2014 season dates are Nov. 4-12); nine-day gun hunt, no change (current 2014 season dates are Nov. 22-30); gun deer hunt (all metro zones), Nov. 22 to Dec. 10 (current 2014 season dates are Nov. 22 to Dec. 10); muzzleloader, Dec. 1-14 (current 2014 season dates are Dec. 1-10); December antlerless hunt, discontinued (current 2014 season dates are Dec. 11-14); and holiday hunt, no change (current 2014 season dates are Dec. 24 to Jan. 4).

The holiday hunt calls for the hunt to be held in the farmland zone or south of Hwy. 64, while the current 2013 season calls for a Dec. 24 to Jan. 4, 2014, holiday hunt only in the CWD zone.

• Reduction in the number of deer units (see related story).

The 2014 proposal calls for combining the current 134 units into 53 larger units or separating units by county.

• Tag availability and zones.

Under the 2014 proposal, bowhunters and gun hunters would be issued a statewide buck tag and an antlerless tag that would be valid in any farmland unit. Extra antlerless tags would cost $12 regardless of the area of the state or weapon type. Hunters would be limited to one tag per day and the number of available tags would be based on harvest objectives for each unit.

• Establish a Deer Management Advisory Committee that would continue a standard three-year review schedule of each unit population goal and provide suggestions to the DNR. Potential membership on the committee would include Conservation Congress members, and representatives form forestry, transportation, agriculture, city/village and tribes.

• Options for units with a decrease objective or affected by disease.

Under the proposal, hunters can shoot either-sex as a first deer and one additional buck would be authorized following harvest of an appropriate number of antlerless deer. Also under the proposal, reduced-fee or free antlerless landowner permits would be available, as well as extra antlerless permits. The proposal also calls for a four-day October antlerless gun hunt in disease units following the emergency rule process.

• Deer Management Assistance Program.

Kroll’s report called for establishing DMAP in Wisconsin. Under the DNR’s proposal, the state would transition to an automated deer registration system for the 2015 season; restore a statewide restriction on the harvest of white/albino deer; and estimate herd populations with a variety of factors, including deer health, sex-age-kill (SAK) population models, impacts on natural resources, societal impacts, deer hunters and agriculture/forestry.

Testimony the DNR received at the hearings, as well as online, mail and telephone comments, will be reviewed prior to the December Natural Resources Board meeting. Changes could be made to the proposal before the DNR presents a final rule package to the board Dec. 10-11.

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