Tuesday, January 31st, 2023
Tuesday, January 31st, 2023

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NRB OKs new rules for hound training

By Tim Eisele Correspondent

Madison — The Natural Resources Board approved changes in the
Wisconsin Administrative Code involving the use of captive wild
animals for hound dog training and large acreage training
enclosures at its meeting Oct. 25 in Madison.

The board met in an unusual teleconference, with NRB chairman
Gerry O’Brien, and members Jonathan Ela, John Welter, and Dave
Clausen attending in Madison, and Christine Thomas, Dan Poulson,
and Steve Willett on the telephone from their home cities.

The hound dog issue had hung over the board since September,
when the board heard testimony from several hound dog training
enthusiasts and other members of the public regarding changes they
wanted to see in the code, which, when it takes effect following
review by the Legislature, has the weight of state law.

Rather than adopt the rule in September, the board asked the DNR
to make changes. These included:

  • Exempting the puppy training enclosure owned by Carla and Pete
    Peck, of Lodi, from the minimum 15-acre size requirement.
  • Provide for a maximum of 16 hours of training in a 24-hour
    period for captive coyotes and fox.
  • Remove the 1-foot distance requirement when training with
    raccoons in roll cages.
  • Require that any surgical modification (tail docking) of
    captive coyotes and foxes be done by a veterinarian.
  • Require hound dog training enclosures to provide documentation
    that they have a veterinarian of record.
  • Correct the fence mesh size language for captive bear cages in
    the current code to indicate that the mesh size must be 2 inches
    square.
  • Do not require owners of coyote and fox training enclosures to
    meet new perimeter fencing standards until they are replacing
    existing fence.

The board also asked the DNR to report back on how these new
rules are working, after the first three years of
implementation.

Tom Hauge, DNR Director of Wildlife Management, said the rules
are now subject to review by the Legislature, which often holds a
public hearing on the proposals, but is not expected to review it
until after the new Legislature begins in 2007. Most likely the
rules, if OK’d by the Legislature, wouldn’t be in place until
spring or summer of 2007.

Randolph rant

During the public participation process, Patricia Randolph, of
Portage, a past Conservation Congress member from Dane County and
now the representative of the animal rights group RAVEN, told the
board that the general public is not aware of Conservation Congress
meetings, and the industry of “killing” is hurting wildlife.

“I am here as a citizen of Wisconsin, because you are my
representatives,” she said.

She said she’d researched extinctions and said she found that
humans are causing the greatest mass extinction of species since
the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

“While you, the Natural Resources Board, continue to cater to
the hunting lobby and its expansion of exploitation, nature is in
massive collapse,” she said. “It is not just that the harm you are
doing by facilitating violence and cruelty to wildlife is
undemocratic, it is also that you are not facilitating the good
work that could and should be done by involving all citizens in
this biodiversity crisis.”

Randolph said that 88 percent of citizens, who do not hunt, are
an untapped resource for energy and funds to restore prairies and
wetlands.

She cited the handling of the feral cat issue at the
Conservation Congress spring hearings two years ago, saying that
moving the question up on the agenda was done to placate cat lovers
– so that they could vote and then leave before the election of
congress delegates was held.

She said the public does not understand that they have to attend
the congress hearings every year to elect delegates.

“The DNR was in complicity with the congress in redesigning the
usual process, in order to discourage non-hunters from staying for
the election to keep the election privatized to the hunters. Also,
only the hunters count the votes and control the process.”

Randolph asked the board to form a committee of non-hunting
citizens to help redesign the process to be fair, inclusive, and
democratic. She wants the process to conform to Wisconsin election
law.

After her presentation, Welter, board member from Eau Claire,
asked Randolph if it was part of her responsibility to count the
ballots at the end of the meetings when she served on the congress.
She said, no, that she was not given that opportunity.

“I didn’t know enough and tried to keep my balance during a very
difficult process,” Randolph said. “I was not given that
opportunity.”

Randolph clarified that she was not questioning the count, but
that the public did not have any knowledge of what is decided and
the process. It has been lost to the general public, she said.

Working with
businesses

Gerry O’Brien, of Stevens Point, raised the issue of wetlands
and how private companies are allowed to mitigate for damages. The
issue had been a subject of news reports with Menard’s, of Eau
Claire, which indicated it would expand its facilities out of
state, meaning Wisconsin would lose new jobs because the company
was reportedly not able to expand in a wetland.

“I would like a report on how our mitigation for private
businesses is working, and is anybody taking advantage of that?”
O’Brien said. “We put the procedure in place several years ago and
would like to know if it was worth it or not worth it. Because we
thought it was going to work for these types of situations.”

Bill Smith, deputy secretary of DNR, told the board there is a
lot of misunderstanding about the process and the DNR would be
happy to address the board.

Ela, of Madison, said there was a lot of misinformation on the
Menard’s case, and that it is very different from what has been
reported.

Todd Ambs, DNR water management administrator, said that
Menard’s never submitted a completed application to the DNR, and
the agency didn’t have the chance to make a determination on its
application. The last the DNR heard from Menard’s was May of
2005.

In another instance, with Ashley Furniture in Trempealeau
County, Ambs said that DNR had found a compromise and issued a
permit allowing Ashley to fill wetlands while requiring the company
to restore 28 acres of wetlands through mitigation.

“We believe we can work through these issues all the way to
completion, and usually reach the end result with 97 percent of the
wetland requests we get we approve,” Ambs said. “We were able to
work through and approve application where they were able to expand
their facility, and add important jobs in the Arcadia area, but do
so in a way that met the laws of this state and the equally
important need to protect our wetlands.”

Menard’s was planning to build a warehouse in Wisconsin, but
instead located a distribution facility in Minnesota in an old
store.

Ambs said the last information the DNR had in May, 2005, is that
Menard’s would come back with a follow-up, but the DNR did not hear
any response from the company. The first contact that Menard’s had
with the DNR was in June of 2004.

DNR Secretary Scott Hassett said he spoke to John Menard and
they still expected to deal with the DNR on other projects in the
future.

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