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home : outdoors : outdoors May 24, 2016

4/9/2014 2:42:00 PM
Spring hearings to be held statewide Monday
Citizens will be asked if they favor legalizing the harvest of albino and all-white deer statewide at the 2014 spring hearings.Dean Hall photograph

Citizens will be asked if they favor legalizing the harvest of albino and all-white deer statewide at the 2014 spring hearings.

Dean Hall photograph

Local deer herd status on agenda at spring hearings

State wildlife biologists invite anyone interested in the status of their local deer herd to attend the annual spring fish and game hearing at 7 p.m. Monday, April 14, in their county.

In the past, early spring herd status meetings were based on groupings of deer management units, with more than 130 of these units across the state bounded primarily by large rivers and highways.

In the future, deer will be managed at the county level making it useful to discuss herd status at the Department of Natural Resources annual spring fish and game rules hearings which are held simultaneously on the second Monday in April in each of the 72 counties.

These hearings provide an opportunity for hunters and other interested individuals to hear a herd status report for that county and to learn about new deer hunting rules and regulations.

Deer herd management throughout Wisconsin relies heavily on information provided by the public, and at each of these hearings local wildlife staff will be on hand to speak with interested participants regarding deer management in that area.

Some hearing locations in this area:

• Oneida County – James William Middle School, 915 Acadia Lane, Rhinelander.

• Vilas County – St. Germain Elementary School Gymnasium, 8234 Hwy 70 West, St. Germain.

• Forest County – Crandon High School, 9750 US Highway 8 West, Crandon.

• Langlade County – Antigo High School Volm Theater, 1900 10th Avenue, Antigo.

• Price County – Price County Courthouse Boardroom, 126 Cherry Street, Phillips.

• Florence County – Florence Natural Resources Center, 5631 Forestry Drive, Florence.

• Iron County - Mercer Community Center, 2648 West Margaret Street, Mercer.

These hearings are held in conjunction with the annual Conservation Congress county meetings at which delegates to the congress are elected and meeting participants are asked to cast advisory votes on suggested fish and game rule changes and other matters related to the outdoors.

For more information about the hearings and locations, visit dnr.wi.gov and search “spring hearings.”

Those unable to attend a local meeting can provide input using an online herd status summary and survey. The survey will be active through April 18. 

To submit feedback, visit http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/hunt/forum.html.

Comments and survey results will be compiled and provided to the wildlife biologist responsible for each of Wisconsin’s 72 counties.

Craig Turk
Outdoors Writer/Photographer

Spring hearings fishery questions

The state asks for feedback on motor trolling, fishing seasons and more

Wisconsin residents who take an interest in the state’s natural resources have the opportunity to provide input at the DNR spring wildlife and fisheries proposed rules hearing and annual Wisconsin Conservation Congress county meetings Monday, April 14.

The meetings, one in each Wisconsin county, will start at 7 p.m.

The annual spring meetings cover elections for WCC delegates, proposed wildlife and fisheries rule changes and WCC proposals for future rule development. Input on proposed hunting, fishing and trapping rule changes is done by non-binding vote and citizen testimony.

Some of the DNR fisheries issues attendees will be asked to consider:



Once again, the state is asking for input on motor trolling. A proposed rule change would allow for motor trolling with one line per angler on state waters where trolling is not currently allowed.

Trolling is allowed with up to three lines per angler in 55 of the state’s 72 counties. Earlier advisory questions concerning the possible legalization of motor trolling have met resistance in Vilas and Oneida counties.

Currently, the practice is allowed on five Oneida County lakes and on none in Vilas County.

At last year’s spring hearings, the DNR proposed allowing trolling with three lines per angler statewide.

The proposal was ultimately voted down 2,775-2,391 statewide, with Oneida County voting 86-48 no and Vilas 146-48 no.

The WCC developed the one-line compromise, which was adopted by the  Natural Resources Board last June, but the Governor’s Office of Regulatory Compliance asked the DNR to seek further public input.

The DNR says motor trolling has no known adverse biological effects where it is already allowed and cites eliminating confusion, the ability for anglers to trail a live bait while under power, and eliminating the need for disabled anglers to apply for special permits among reasons to justify the change.


Other fisheries questions

The DNR is trying to gauge support for catch-and-release seasons and whether or not they should be artificial bait only with a pair of questions.

Under the possible changes, many closed seasons would become catch-and-release seasons. The DNR points out current successful catch-and-release seasons for trout and bass.

One question asks if the state’s general fishing opener should be changed from the first Saturday in May to the Saturday closest to May 1.

If approved, the change would have the opener landing in late April some years and prevent it from occasionally occurring on Mother’s Day weekend.

The question is in response to the governor’s office and tourism interests that asked the DNR to look  at moving the opener when it falls on Mother’s day weekend, which happens about once every seven years.

People are asked if they favor allowing catch-hold-release bass tournament participants temporary exemptions from protected slot length limit regulations.

These types of regulations restrict catch-hold-release fishing tournaments because fish within the slot cannot be transported. Such a change would make it easier for fisheries biologists to use slot limit regulations more widely, according to the DNR.

One question asks if the respondent would support expanded catch-and-release opportunities for sturgeon on Minnesota-Wisconsin boundary waters.

Another advisory question concerns trophy bass regulations. Currently, the state has a minimum size limit of 18 inches on certain “trophy” bass waters.

The DNR is considering raising that size limit to 20 inches, citing the increased expectations of anglers.

The DNR is asking citizens which regulations they prefer on lakes where the management goal is to increase the size of the fish.

Possibilities include maximum size limits, no minimum size with slot size limits including a “one-over” the slot size component, or a no minimum with one over a certain length with no protected slot size.



Eleven questions on the spring hearings questionnaire deal with panfish management.

A number of advisory questions concerning panfish have been submitted by the WCC in recent years, including calling for separation of panfish species and reduced bag limits.

The DNR says data shows the average and maximum size of panfish species has declined over the past 50 years and they are currently working on a new management plan for panfish. Currently, 94 percent of the state’s waters have a bag limit of 25 panfish with no size limit.

Questions ask if people feel there is a need to increase panfish size, spread out the harvest and if a statewide reduction in bag limit, and by how much, is needed.

Additional questions ask if people would support separate bag limits for bluegill, crappie and perch, if there is support for higher minimum length limits or lower panfish bag limit on certain waters.

One question asks if there is support for habitat improvements or protection in specific waters in order to determine the effects.

The DNR reveals data from a 2013 survey that showed one-third of anglers were satisfied with the size of panfish, one-third were dissatisfied and one-third were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. 

Half of the respondents wanted to keep the daily bag at 25 and half wanted a smaller bag limit.


Spring hearings wildlife and NRB advisory questions gauge citizen interest

White deer, stamps, baiting and feeding among the topics

Advisory questions citizens will have a chance to vote on at the DNR spring wildlife and fisheries proposed rules hearing and annual Wisconsin Conservation Congress county meetings will measure favor for things like revised hunting and fishing stamps, a deer gun season baiting ban, and legalizing the harvest of white deer statewide.

Wildlife advisory questions

One DNR wildlife advisory questions asks whether people who fail to apply for limited draw hunting or trapping permits for bear, bobcat, fisher, otter, wolf, and turkey for three or more years should be allowed to maintain preference points. 

Currently, a three-year gap in applying results in the applicant losing all accumulated preference points.

Other questions dealing with preference points ask if people who miss application deadlines should be allowed to apply for a preference point only and if the respondent favors simplifying the conditions for being able to transfer preference points by allowing transfer to any other person who is legally able to hunt or trap.

Currently, transfer is allowed only under certain circumstances, except for wolf permits, which can be transferred to anyone legally allowed to hunt or trap in the state.

In another question, people are asked if they favor allowing the use of foot cable restraints during the latter potion of the furbearer harvest seasons.

The state says research has documented the safe use of these restraints on dry land.


NRB advisory questions

Would you prefer a single stamp for hunting or fishing? That’s what the Natural Resources Board wants to know. 

Currently, anglers must purchase separate inland and Great Lakes trout stamps, while hunters need to purchase a turkey stamp, a pheasant stamp and a state waterfowl stamp to hunt all of those seasons.

The NRB says overall costs would be lower to the hunter or angler who currently buys multiple stamps, but still raise more money to maintain programs that benefit fish and wildlife.

Concerning deer hunting, people are asked if they would support a ban on deer baiting and feeding statewide 10 days before and through the nine-day gun deer season.

The NRB cites hunters who have said that baiting and feeding affects the way deer are distributed and natural daytime movement. The idea was favored by spring meeting attendees in 2006 and 2011, but has not yet led to any changes.

The NRB also asks if citizens favor legalizing the harvest of albino or all-white deer statewide.

The NRB notes there is no biological reason to protect white deer and says they are at a selective disadvantage due to coloring and are more likely to have physical maladies such as poor eyesight.

White deer have been legal game in the chronic wasting disease zones, though they will be protected statewide again beginning this fall.


Spring hearings information

The annual spring meetings cover elections for WCC delegates, proposed wildlife and fisheries rule changes and WCC proposals for future rule development. Input on proposed hunting, fishing and trapping rule changes is done by non-binding vote and citizen testimony.

New this year, the annual spring deer herd status meetings will be held in conjunction with the spring hearings.

A list of meeting locations and the questionnaire are available on the DNR website. Visit dnr.wi.gov and search “spring hearings.”

Craig Turk may be reached at cturk@lakelandtimes.com.

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