Ozaukee County considers a ban on shining of deer

Port Washington, Wis. – The Ozaukee County board may ban
recreational deer shining from public roads.

County supervisor Tim Kaul has introduced a proposal that reads
in part, “No person may use or possess with intent to use a light
for shining wild animals from a highway, or from a vehicle, as
defined in 340.01(22), Wis. Stats., located on a highway.”

If the proposed change is eventually adopted by the full board,
the penalty for violations would be a forfeiture of up to $1,000.
Provisions in the proposal would exempt law enforcement personnel
and DNR employees who are conducting a game census. Hunters also
would be allowed to use a flashlight at the point of kill while
engaged in legal hunting activities. However, the practice of
recreational shining for deer would be banned.

Kaul, who owns an elk farm in the town of Grafton, said several
constituents have complained to him about shining being a
nuisance.

“Ozaukee County is getting more and more populated,” Kaul said.
“Several constituents in my district talked to me about this issue
to see if anything could be done about shining. It has just gotten
to be problematic. There are less open areas to shine and there is
getting to be conflicts between homeowners and the people shining.
The lights are getting brighter every year and they shine farther.
There has been shining into houses and shooting going on from
roadways.”

Ozaukee County Sheriff Maury Straub said his office has not
received any complaints.

“From the enforcement side of things it has not caused us a
problem,” Straub said. “Whether they would enact an ordinance or
not I can’t say that it would impact law enforcement much
positively or negatively.”

David Stencel, of Grafton, does not support the proposed
ban.

“Tim is trying to make it seem like shining is a terrible thing
and people who shine are violators,” Stencel said. “I think the
situation is that he is having trouble with people shining on his
elk. I think he is trying to blow this out of proportion and get
the whole county closed down for shining deer.

“From young on we (Stencel and his daughter) would go with
Grandpa and my wife would come along, and we would go out by the
Cedarburg Bog to look for deer,” he said. “We enjoyed that. It is a
recreational thing to a lot of families. It is not something people
just do so they can go out and violate and shoot deer. I don’t
think it is a bad thing.”

Stencel is retired and has taken time to survey people in the
area. He said he has not found a single person who favors a ban. He
said that at the last county meeting, Kaul was the only person in
favor of the proposal. “In my statement at the meeting I said
possibly instead of being concerned about shining and shining on
his elk, he should be a little more concerned about the CWD
prospect that is coming out of game farms and hurting the deer
herd,” Stencel said.

DNR Conservation Warden Bill Mitchell covers part of Ozaukee
County, and he has mixed feeling about the proposal.

“You really hate to see any loss of people’s rights, but the
people who live in the country areas have rights, too,” Mitchell
said. “We do get reports of people who shine into houses.
Thirty-five years ago people shined with sealed-beam light bulbs
that maybe shined a quarter mile. Now there are multi-million
candlepower lights, and they can shine from one road to the next. I
have had mothers call me and tell me their kids don’t want to go to
sleep because they are afraid of the shiners.

“We used to see a lot of (families) out shining deer. Now they
are shining to shoot raccoons or deer, or it is kids driving around
drinking beer. We very rarely run into somebody who is shining that
is not violating”

Mitchell said these people are already violating the law and a
shining ban would not likely change their attitudes. However, if a
ban was in place, these violators would “stick out like a sore
thumb.” Since shining is legal, people engaging in the practice
usually are not reported. With a ban, anyone shining would be
targeted to be stopped by law enforcement officers.

One concern is that Ozaukee County would be an island where
shining is banned, but in surrounding counties shining would be
legal. Mitchell has experience with that situation because the town
of Trenton in Washington County is the only town in that county
with a ban.

“To begin with, we had a few warnings (in Trenton),” Mitchell
said. “Now, the ban has really curbed shining. I don’t think I have
had a complaint from the town of Trenton in a couple of years. I do
have concern with doing it township by township. One of the things
brought up in Ozaukee County was just to ban it in some of the
townships in the southern part of the county. The problem that I
see is that the majority of the people do not know where township
boundaries are. People know a lot better where county boundaries
are.”

Straub said his department would use discretion if a shining ban
is enacted.

“If they enacted an ordinance we would have to be sensitive to
that fact (that people might be confused with boundaries),” Straub
said. “Our enforcement effort would likely have to include
first-time offenses treated as a warning for a fairly lengthy
period of time until it became known that we were a no-shining
county.”

Kaul does not believe the proposal would be a hardship for
hunters or shiners in adjoining counties.

“The ordinance would not interfere with any kind of hunting,”
Kaul said. “It does not limit landowners shining from their own
properties as long as they are not on the roadway. I can’t imagine
the sheriff sitting at the Ozaukee County line waiting for somebody
to come shining. Those properties that are near the border, there
will be some kind of understanding there.”

Stencel said he believes Kaul is trying to push the proposal
through quickly so there would be little public input. “The sad
thing is if the (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) would not have printed
an article, people and hunters would not have known what was going
on and all of a sudden we would have had another regulation here,”
Stencel said.

Kaul said the proposal is scheduled to be discussed at the
Ozaukee County Public Safety Committee meeting Jan. 20 in Port
Washington.

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