Friday, February 3rd, 2023
Friday, February 3rd, 2023

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NRB clarifies 2002 gun deer season framework

Correspondent

Madison The state’s Natural Resources Board has agreed to modify
its gun deer season framework, as requested in January by the
Legislature’s Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules
(JCRAR).

The question now is this will the modifications be in effect
this fall?

At its March meeting in Madison, the board agreed to:

1) Change from a three-year pilot statewide four-day antlerless
gun hunt in December to a four-day antlerless-only hunt in
December, only in Zone T units. These are units where the regular
gun season is not expected to bring the deer population to within
20 percent of the over-winter goals.

2) Change its recommendation that the early bow season would be
extended through the Thursday prior to the gun deer season only in
Zone T units, to extending the season statewide.

Last January, JCRAR actually objected to four parts of the
recommendations, resulting from the Conservation Congress Deer 2000
process. Two of the objections, including timing of the four-day
October Zone T season and allowing hunters to register deer
harvested during the gun season in the deer management unit where
it was harvested or in an adjoining unit, were upheld. JCRAR has
drafted legislation that would prevent the DNR from implementing
those two recommendations.

The other recommendations, 1 and 2 above, were returned to the
DNR with the request that the DNR and the NRB modify their
proposals.

Bill Vander Zouwen, DNR wildlife ecology section chief, said
that during the past two years the December Zone T hunt has been
beneficial in helping to reduce the number of deer units that
require special hunts.

The proposed December hunt has been controversial with the
winter sports lobby, especially snowmobilers. The DNR has backed
down on its request to hold the late Zone T hunt statewide and is
now suggesting it only be offered in units with much higher deer
populations. It’s hoped that this will reduce opposition from
snowmobilers.

When JCRAR objected to the original proposal, it specified that
it “did not want to object to the rule outright because the
committee wanted to preserve the ability of the DNR to have a
December T-Zone hunt, but the committee was strongly opposed to the
creation of a permanent, statewide hunt in December.”

The extension of the early bow season provides that the early
season would end at the close of hunting hours two days prior to
the opening of the deer gun season, regardless of when that season
would begin. This would always provide a one-day break between the
end of early bow season and the beginning of the gun deer
season.

Vander Zouwen said the changes could possibly become a part of
the hunting regulations for this fall, but that depends on whether
JCRAR meets and approves the changes in April. If JCRAR doesn’t
approve the regulations by then, it would be too late to get the
changes into the 2002 hunting regs pamphlet.

The board also heard a report from Bill Mytton, DNR deer and
bear ecologist, that listed the deer units that will have Zone T
regulations this fall. Those units are: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11,
12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 27, 28, 29A, 34, 35, 36, 47, 49B, 51A, 51B,
54C, 59D, 61, 62B, 63A, 63B, 65B, 66, 67A, 67B, 68A, 70A, 70E, 72,
74A, 75C, 75D, 78, 80A, 80B, and 81.

“This year we have 45 units in Zone T, which is a big reduction
from last year when 76 units were in Zone T,” Mytton said. “We also
have some watch units, many in southwestern and northeastern
Wisconsin, that we’ll be watching to see if they should be in Zone
T next year.

“One of the frustrations with deer management is going from a
record kill one year to a diminished kill the following year. There
is controversy about whether there are any deer left,” he said.

The reason that Zone T is in effect for 45 units is that the
deer population in these units will not be reduced to within 20
percent of the over-winter goals under the existing season
structure.

Therefore, these units each will have a four-day antlerless-only
season, with the use of bows and guns, from Oct. 24-27. In
addition, the carcass tag issued with each gun deer license will
allow taking a deer of either sex during the regular nine-day gun
season (Nov. 23 through Dec. 1) and muzzleloader season. One free
antlerless tag will be issued with each license, two with patron
licenses, for these units. Bonus tags will also be available ($12
for residents, $20 for nonresidents).

These units may also be open for deer hunting, with guns and
bows, for four days in December, if JCRAR approves that provision.
Blaze orange clothing is required of all hunters, except waterfowl
hunters, during the October and December four-day hunts.

Mytton said the DNR held meetings in 43 locations with the
public in which biologists discussed herd populations in each
unit.

The metro units will not be included in Zone T this year. They
were included in the past if they were surrounded by a Zone T unit,
but, for the first time, all metro units will have the same season,
including unlimited number of tags.

DNR officials now say the metro units will have a three-week gun
deer season (from the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving through the
second Sunday in December) and the archery season will begin the
Saturday nearest Sept. 15 and continue to the Thursday prior to gun
season. The season will reopen on the Saturday before Thanksgiving
and continue through Jan. 31.

State parks will not participate in season extensions this year,
but hunters selected via hunter’s choice to hunt in parks will be
able to buy extra antlerless tags.

In other action, the board:

Authorized the DNR to hold a hearing on a proposed rule that
would provide a clearer definition for fishing rafts on the Wolf
River. Increasingly, owners of small parcels of land are
constructing non-conforming structures in the Wolf River floodway,
using the designation as a fishing raft to avoid county zoning
regulations.

Part of the proposal includes that no owner may maintain a
fishing raft which exceeds 512 square feet, has any length or width
greater than 32 feet, or has a maximum height from the deck to the
uppermost roof line greater than 11 feet.

Authorized the DNR to hold hearings on a proposal to regulate
snowmobile/railroad crossings that are not located on public roads
or highways.

Authorized the DNR to hold hearings for implementing a grant
program for removal of small dams and abandoned dams. Small dams
are less than 15 feet high, or impound 100 acres or less.

Approved a DNR rule that will set a fee of $75 for a three-year
resident falconry permit, and a fee of $100 for a one-year
nonresident raptor trapping permit. The rule also adds a group of
hawks known as accipiters (northern goshawk, Cooper’s hawk, and
sharp-shinned hawk) to the list of raptors allowed for use in
educational programs.

DNR endangered resources biologist Randy Jurewicz told the board
the updated rule would affect about 100 resident falconers and 10
nonresidents. Before this rule was approved, there was no permit
fee for falconry, except that nonresidents were required to obtain
a small game license.

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