Wednesday, February 8th, 2023
Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Congress approves DNR rule changes

or at the congress statewide, was allowing the use of dogs for
fall turkey hunting.

On the Conservation Congress “advisory question” side of the
agenda, delegates went against the April 12 vote that rejected a
proposal to allow nonresident trapping. The delegation supported
the idea, 39 counties to 26.

Both topics fall turkey and nonresident trapping received the
most discussion at the statewide conference, with some delegates
arguing in favor of both. However, efforts to support both changes
were narrowly defeated in county votes.

Another change that of allowing the sale of deer licenses during
the gun deer season was defeated on April 12 in the statewide vote.
That position was supported May 6 by the congress delegates, but
Conservation Congress vice chairman Ed Harvey, Jr. noted that the
Legislature had already signed the change into law, so the change
will, indeed, be in place for the 2004 season.

The Conservation Congress also went with sportsmen on two
congress advisory questions regarding trout stamp fee increases.
Delegates rejected the first question, which would have bumped the
trout stamp to $10 for all fishermen, but then supported the second
question. That proposal increases the trout stamp to $10 for
residents, but sets the nonresident fee at $12. The latter will now
be advanced to the DNR for consideration as a proposed rule change
for the 2005 spring hearings.

The two proposed changes that received the most discussion
included hunting turkeys with dogs in the fall season and allowing
nonresident trapping. Both were defeated on April 12 in the
statewide vote, but some delegates in Mosinee argued in favor of
both.

DNR Bureau of Wildlife Director Tom Hauge explained why the DNR
did not favor advancing the fall turkey/dog rule change. He told
the delegates that he and other wildlife biologists understand how
dogs are used for fall turkey hunting in several eastern and
southern states; the dogs are trained to scatter a flock of birds,
it’s then called to heel, and the hunter then sets up to call the
flock back together. Often, small, mixed-breed dogs are used for
this style of hunting. They are trained to lie down and remain
quiet while the hunter calls. The smaller dogs are covered up with
camo cloth during the calling process.

Many of the Wisconsin hunters who voted against the proposed
rule change said they didn’t want to see hunters using retrievers
or pointers to hunt turkeys at the same time they’re hunting
pheasants or grouse. They said hunters would then shoot at flushing
turkeys.

“We don’t recommend advancing this rule at this time,” Hauge
said. “There just is not an understanding by the Wisconsin hunting
public on the traditional use of this hunting technique in other
states.”

Some delegates criticized the DNR for not making the technique
more clear in the spring questionnaire. Hauge said the DNR added
language that described the technique as “scatter and call-back,”
but it still failed on a statewide vote in 46 counties. Only 24
counties supported the change, although the individual vote was
2,171 in favor and 2,858 against.

The congress eventually agreed not to support the proposed rule
at this time.

Because the proposal to allow nonresident trapping is a congress
advisory question, it cannot become a rule change this year. It
will go to the DNR for consideration, but DNR wildlife lawyer Tim
Andryk noted that allowing nonresident trapping would require
legislation. It could not be changed simply through DNR rule, he
said.

Delegates who are trappers argued in favor of allowing
non-resident trapping because some states that they’d like to visit
only allow trapping by nonresidents if the trapper’s home state
allow nonresident trapping, as well. The trappers said there aren’t
many nonresident trappers who’d be interested in coming to
Wisconsin, but making the change would allow Wisconsin trappers to
go to western states like North Dakota and Montana.

The advisory question was supported on the floor, but will now
likely have to go through the Assembly Committee on Natural
Resources in search of support from legislators.

The DNR’s proposed rule changes now go the NRB for review and
expected approval. The NRB will meet Wednesday, May 26 at Stoney
Creek Inn in Mosinee, at 8:30 a.m., to take up the proposed
changes.

In an election for officers, Steven Oestreicher, of Harshaw,
continues as chairman, Harvey continues as vice chairman, and Al
Opall, of Wausau, continues as secretary.

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