NRB moves coyote proposal forward
Siren, Wis. — It wasn’t without reservation from some members of the Natural Resources Board that the policy-making body moved forward a plan to allow the hunting of coyotes in northern Wisconsin during the gun deer-hunting season.
And it wasn’t without objection from members of the public.
The NRB approved the agenda item 4-2, thereby allowing the DNR to initiate the rule-making process to allow coyotes to be hunted in Wolf Management Zone 1 during the nine-day deer hunt.
However, because of concerns, the DNR may deviate from its planned course of action regarding the matter. Concerns came from NRB members Dave Clausen and Jane Wiley. And Chris McGeshick, a Mole Lake tribal member and former state and tribal warden, questioned opening the zone to the take of coyotes during the gun deer season, citing safety issues and the possible accidental killing of wolves.
McGeshick suggested the board wait a year and further study the implications of such an action. He also said tribes hadn’t been properly included in discussions of the plan.
Scott Loomans, DNR wildlife regulations policy specialist, said the DNR will pursue allowing coyote harvest during the northern deer hunt, but will alter its approach. Rather than include it with the department’s wolf-harvest plan, it will be considered separately, and potential NRB approval could be delayed, perhaps a month.
“I think we’ll probably take more time with it and consult the tribes,” Loomans said. He said it could be forwarded for approval in August.
Because it’s an “emergency rule,” specifically authorized by Wisconsin Act 169, the DNR is exempted from making a finding of emergency in promulgating any rules, which means, according to Loomans, no hearings are required. The NRB’s action means he can begin writing a rule proposal.
According to the DNR, the current closure was established when wolves were listed by the state and federal governments as an endangered species “to prevent incidents of misidentification by people who intended to harvest coyotes. The closure is no longer needed for protection of the wolf population, and this coyote-hunting opportunity can be restored,” the DNR says, adding that wolf populations are established in areas where the coyote season closure hasn’t been in effect.
A change would allow coyotes to be hunted year-round, throughout the state.
George Meyer, executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, spoke in favor of the measure, calling it “ironic” that hunters may be allowed to shoot wolves during the gun deer hunt, but not coyotes.
Sharp-tailed Grouse Society on northwest burning ban
When a wind storm ripped through parts of northwestern Wisconsin last July, it set the stage for what became a long-running emergency burning ban in that area this spring. It also meant the abandonment of prescribed burns, controlled events that enhance habitat for the limited population of sharp-tailed grouse in its prime range in the state.
Mike Cole, of the Wisconsin Sharp-tailed Grouse Society’s board of directors, told NRB members of concerns the group had with the ban, which extended well into spring.
According to a letter from the group to the NRB, “The WSGS has concerns over the emergency fire ban implemented in northwest Wisconsin this past spring, specifically how long it was kept in place, long after heavy rains and green-up greatly reduced the wildfire hazard in northwest Wisconsin.
“As an organization and as individuals, we understand well the risk that wildfire entails under adverse climate and weather conditions. The effect of the July 1 (2011) blowdown, coupled with a dry fall and a dry early spring, dictated a cautious approach to burning in spring 2012.”
The letter notes the emergency fire ban effectively cancelled all prescribed burning for sharp-tailed grouse habitat improvement and maintenance on state wildlife areas in the northwest, where most state wildlife areas managed for barrens and sharptails are located.
“WSGS’s primary concern at this time is that prescribed burning might be prohibited next spring (2013). While no one can predict weather or moisture conditions a year from now, WSGS urges the DNR not to jump the gun, or anticipate climatic conditions next spring, and prematurely implement another emergency burning ban,” the letter says.
It also says that most of the blowdown area wasn’t “immediately adjacent” to managed sharptail properties, and that by next spring, it’s estimated 70 percent of the blowdown acreage will have been harvested.