Carcass registration: Is it worth anything anymore?

This spring’s turkey registration was down roughly 10 percent from last spring. Certainly some of those dips were due to weather, early hunting period snowfalls during Period A, and during the youth hunt. But to what extent?

Many Wisconsin hunters thought it might come to this. A significant change in registration numbers occurs with deer or turkeys and there could be several causes. Could one of those causes be unreported kills?

How many of these changes in registrations are really resulting from hunters not killing as many animals? And does it matter? With the registration changes the last four to five years, how much of this is really hunters killing fewer or more animals? Is it too easy – without requiring carcass tag attachment and in-person registration, with electronic registration, and a few other changes – to take an animal home and never report it? Is it happening and is it significant?

This spring’s turkey registration was down roughly 10 percent from last spring. Certainly some of those dips were due to weather, early hunting period snowfalls during Period A, and during the youth hunt. But to what extent?

Now when we really want to know, our baselines are considered suspect by some. In some cases, not only could one turkey not be counted, but an unused tag could be saved to shoot another bird. In a few cases, then, instead of two birds being counted, zero may be reported.

It’s just too easy, it seems, to hunt and not report. And it is too difficult for law enforcement to make a case when this does happen.

Should the state start backing the truck up a little bit and consider a better registration system? Or at least put an effort into checking the registration systems so we can accept these electronic registration numbers? Or are the numbers so insignificant it doesn’t matter?

Maybe a discussion of why Wisconsin scrapped backtags, in-person registrations, and changed carcass tag validation and attachment would be a place to begin.

Was there any input from the DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement when these changes were initiated? Or is the fear of expressing an opinion so great that the field biologists and field wardens have to remain silent? Or was it all a case that the DNR was forbidden from providing input?

If registration numbers are needed, useful, and helpful, let’s make sure they are as accurate as possible. Let’s not be making changes suggested by a single legislator or Natural Resources Board member without open discussions.

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