In a somewhat surprising move, the Natural Resources Board has struck down most of a plan to allow hunting and trapping in almost all Wisconsin state parks.
The decision Tuesday to limit parks hunting/trapping from Nov. 15 to Dec. 15 and from April 1 until the end of the spring turkey season came after nearly 2,000 state residents registered their opposition to the plan, which was mandated by the Legislature as part of an effort to reverse a decline in the number of hunters.
Some parks will also be open to archery hunters. Here is the latest from the DNR.
Still, the scaled-back plan seems to please non-hunting parks users.
"I think the decision is a smart compromise that protects the safety of park users while still creating hunting opportunities when it is most beneficial for hunters," says Bill Coady, co-president of the Madison Nordic Ski Club. "I don't like the law, but I appreciate how the DNR board listened to park users and neighbors in drafting their implementation."
The Sporting Heritage Bill signed last summer by Gov. Scott Walker called for opening up all state parks to hunting for the first time, in accordance with existing seasons. The parks hunting measure was part of an effort to get more Wisconsinites out in the field, including offering $5 licenses for new hunters and online hunter safety classes.
In an effort to comply with the new law, dubbed Act 168, the Department of Natural Resources proposed allowing hunting in the parks from Oct. 15 to just before Memorial Day.
But that plan drew heated opposition from some parks users and tourism officials, who said it might end up cutting into DNR revenues for camping, cross-country skiing, mountain biking or other non-consumptive uses.
All told, the DNR received 2,053 comments on the plan with 95.8 percent opposed.
The Sporting Heritage Bill was introduced last year by Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder, R-Abbotsford. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.