DNR unveils 2006 proposed fish, wildlife rule changes

By Tim Eisele Correspondent

Stevens Point, Wis. — A longer ruffed grouse season, a longer
fall turkey season, and an expanded bowfishing area are three
proposed rule changes the DNR would like to offer at the April 10
spring fish and wildlife hearings.

The DNR will review all of its proposed rules for the Natural
Resources Board at the board’s Jan. 25 meeting. With NRB approval,
the questions will be offered to sportsmen at the April 10
hearings. DNR officials ran through their proposed rule changes for
the Conservation Congress Executive Committee on Jan. 6 in Stevens

DNR wildlife questions

The DNR Bureau of Wildlife will ask whether sportsmen support
extending the the northern ruffed grouse season from Dec. 31 to
Jan. 31. This would make the northern and southern part of the
state all one zone, with a season from mid-September to the end of
January. The DNR believes northern counties have a higher grouse
population and late-season hunting pressure would not be

The only other zone is the eastern zone, which would remain more

Another upland game question asks if all pheasant hunters should
buy the state pheasant stamp, rather than just those hunting in the
pheasant management zone. The change is necessary because the
Legislature changed the program, requiring now that a majority of
pheasant stamp revenue goes to rearing and stocking birds on public
grounds throughout the state.

Four questions deal with turkey hunting. The first would extend
fall turkey hunting 25 days. Fall turkey hunting, which now opens
Oct. 1 and continues for 40 days, could be open during the entire
early archery deer season if sportsmen approve the question.

The DNR is proposing that spring turkey hunting hours be
extended from 5 p.m. to sunset. This was a DNR advisory question
last spring.

Wisconsin has two special youth hunting programs, one for
waterfowl and one for deer, and another question would create a
youth turkey hunt. This would be open for two days on a weekend
before the regular spring turkey season for 12- to

The DNR also will propose its permanent rule for selling the
excess turkey tags on a first-come, first-served basis each spring.
The DNR has emergency rules that will go to the board in January
for the 2006 season, and these permanent rules are identical and
will be used in future seasons.

The rule calls for selling one permit per person per day. There
will be no limit to the total number of permits one person can buy.
The cost, set by legislation, is $10 per permit for residents and
$15 for nonresidents.

Another pair of questions ask if people support a ban on
possessing electronic turkey calls during turkey season and
electronic waterfowl calls during waterfowl season. It is illegal
to use these devices, but it’s not illegal to possess them while

Another proposal would lower the age for the “learn to hunt”
program from 11 years to 10 years of age. This is not connected
with the current debate in the Legislature about lowering the
minimum hunting age.

There is a proposal to allow hunters to buy a Class A bear tag
during the bear season, as long as the license is not effective
until three days after the purchase date.

The DNR will ask two advisory questions – whether waterfowl
blinds should be removed from state land each day at the close of
hunting hours, and whether the boundary between the northern and
southern waterfowl zones should be changed (there are two proposed
boundary options).

DNR fish questions

The DNR Bureau of Fisheries will offer the NRB 14 statewide
questions and 16 local questions.

The first would ask if people favor prohibiting the harvest of
live clams from inland waters. There is no commercial clamming now,
and this would close all clam harvest.

There are several questions regarding lake sturgeon and walleye
regulation changes on the Menominee River at Marinette. (For more
on those questions, please see Page 16 of this issue).

The DNR will ask if people favor defining “sinker release
devices” that intentionally release lead weights when a fish
strikes, and prohibiting their use. (They’re primarily a concern on
the Great Lakes.)

Sportsmen will be asked if the date that ice shelters must be
removed be delayed to allow fishing for a full weekend.

Another question asks if bowfishing should be expanded from the
current 53 lakes or flowages to lakes in several other counties,
plus lakes Neshonoc, Cedar, Wappogasset, Tichigan, Wind, Potato,
Shawano, Big Muskego, Lac LaBelle, and Poygan.

The DNR will ask if anglers favor changing the St. Croix River
fishing opener for walleyes and northern pike to the Saturday
nearest May 1, to be consistent with Minnesota regulations. Another
border question asks if people favor changing the 15-inch limit for
sauger in the St. Louis River to no minimum size limit to be
consistent on Wisconsin and Minnesota boundary waters.

Other questions include the following:

  • Do you favor increasing the length limit for muskies in the Fox
    River between Lake Winnebago and the DePere dam, including Little
    Butte des Morts, from 34 inches to 50 inches, and changing the
    opening date from the first Saturday in May to the Saturday closest
    to Memorial Day?
  • Do you favor increasing the length limit for muskellunge in the
    Lake Winnebago system from 34 inches to 50 inches?
  • Do you favor replacing the 14-inch and five-fish daily bag for
    bass on Pigeon Lake (Bayfield County) with a 14- to 18-inch
    protected slot and three-fish daily bag limit?
  • Do you favor retaining the 18-inch, three-fish per day limit
    for walleyes, sauger, and hybrids on Beaver Dam Lake, Dodge County,
    including Mill Creek from the mouth upstream to the Fox Lake dam,
    and all portions of Beaver Creek and all other tributaries to
    Beaver Dam Lake?
  • Do you favor increasing the walleye and sauger size limit on
    Kangaroo Lake (Door County) from 15 to 18 inches and lowering the
    daily bag from five to three?
  • Do you favor changing the bass regulations on Muskellunge Lake
    (Lincoln County) from a 14-inch size limit and daily bag of five to
    an 18-inch size limit and daily bag limit of one bass?
  • Do you favor replacing the 18-inch, one-fish daily bag limit
    for bass on Oneida Lake (Oneida County) with a 14- to 18-inch
    protected slot and three-fish daily bag limit?
  • Do you favor increasing the limit to 50 inches for muskellunge
    on Pelican Lake in Oneida County?
  • Do you favor eliminating the 14-inch limit and retaining the
    five-fish daily bag limit for bass in Big Butternut Lake in Polk
    County and Nelson Lake in Sawyer County?
  • Do you favor increasing the length limit for northern pike in
    Nelson Lake from no minimum to 32 inches and reducing the bag limit
    from five fish to one fish?
  • Do you favor reducing the daily bag for panfish on Smith Lake,
    Sawyer County, from 25 per day to 10 per day?
  • Do you favor increasing the length limit from 14 to 18 inches
    and reducing the daily bag limit from five to one in total for bass
    on Kentuck Lake in Vilas County?
  • Do you favor increasing the length limit from 16 to 22 inches
    and reducing the daily bag limit from two fish to one fish for bass
    in Pallette Lake in Vilas County?
  • Do you favor removing special regs for northern pike and
    muskies on Long Lake, Waushara County, to general state regs?
  • Do you favor changing the open season for trout on Gilbert,
    Pearl, and Pine lakes in Waushara County from the first Saturday in
    May through Sept. 30 to the first Saturday in May through the first
    Sunday in March?
  • Do you favor extending the sunset clause from 2007 to 2014 on
    the experimental slot limit for walleye, sauger, and hybrids on the
    Wisconsin River from the Prairie du Sac dam upstream to the
    Grandfather dam, Yellow River, Lemonweir River, in which there is a
    15-inch length limit and a 20- to 28-inch protected slot, with a
    daily bag limit of five fish, with only one fish allowed over 28
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