The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Wisconsin Conservation Congress (WCC) hosted the annual spring hearings statewide, one in each county, Monday night, including those held in Oneida and Vilas counties.
The Oneida County hearing took place at the Nicolet College LRC Theatre. About 60 people were in attendance.
Attendees were allowed a chance to ask questions or make comments as individual advisory questions were presented and voted upon.
One proposed change would allow the DNR to remove closed seasons on lakes where it is deemed not biologically necessary to protect certain species with a closed season.
Oneida County WCC chairman Roger Sabota, suggested there could be economic implications without a set date, saying the traditional opener in early May brings many to area businesses.
The crowd buzzed as certain issues came to discussion. One of these involved the possibility of a rule change that would allow motor trolling statewide.
One attendee wondered why the topic comes up and opined that trolling is disruptive to a lake's appeal and environment, while another said it was no more disruptive than many activities on the water, saying he supported the change, but noting that "some won't like it."
Question 27 asked if it is important to have uniform bag limits for fish on inland waters. One citizen asked how this was even feasible when spearfishing (in the ceded territory) takes place.
Another question dealing with simplifying regulations asked if it was important to have border water regulations that are consistent with neighboring states' regulations. One attendee remarked about collective efforts between states saying, "What makes it so hard ... can't you just agree?"
Conservation warden Jim Jung replied, "Typically, no," which drew laughter from the crowd.
Roger Sabota pointed out that the governor is looking for ways to simplify regulations.
One citizen commented, "These questions aren't simple."
One proposed change would allow anglers to troll a bait while position fishing. One attendee commented, "This isn't enforced now."
Another quickly piped up, "I've seen law enforcement," amusing much of the crowd.
Question 65, which asked about support for a maximum speed limit of 25 on frozen waters (excepting trails), generated as much buzz in the room as anything. The crowd seemed largely against this change. One citizen remarked, "Vote no on this ... don't let them get their foot in the door."
The crowd seemed largely in favor of establishing a sandhill crane season. One attendee commented, "Absolutely," when question 69, which asks if the voter is in favor of the WCC asking the Legislature to give the DNR authority to develop a hunting season, was discussed.
On the question of allowing a continuous open season for trout in "put and take" lakes, a number of people voiced approval.
One proposed change is lowering the bag limit to five crappies on Oneida Lake in Oneida County. One citizen asked voters to approve this change, noting that the size of crappies in Oneida Lake is going down, and that the lake has been overfished.
The proposal to end the coyote season closure during the gun deer season in wolf management zone 1 seemed to have quite a bit of support. It was noted that about 44 percent of our wolves now reside south of the zone.
Among citizen proposals, there was one that would limit the number of antlerless tags a single person could purchase (the thought is that small areas could be hunted too hard if one person buys many tags), a proposal that would require lakefront property owners to discard weeds washed up on shore (rather than throwing them back into the water), and a proposal to restore hunting, fishing, and trapping rule-making to "the way it was" (Act 21 changed the process by which rule changes are made).
This year, time for a town hall meeting where citizens could share ideas about simplifying regulations and making hunting, fishing, and trapping participation easier, was allowed at the end. Few took advantage of the opportunity.
The Vilas County meeting was held at St. Germain Elementary School.
Among the issues that were discussed at this meeting included question 2, which asked if voters are in favor of updating guide license requirements, which would require guides to report things such as harvest and client information. Concerns were raised, especially over the necessity of reporting client information.
The proposal to allow a year-round fishing season on specific lakes for certain species if it's deemed not biologically necessary to close the season was met with resistance. Many attendees voiced the opinion that the fishing season should not be changed.
Also meeting opposition at the Vilas County meeting was the proposal to allow motor trolling statewide. Many thought this would be a bad idea.
A number of people weren't on board with the efforts to simplify hunting, fishing, and trapping regulations overall. Many believed that it's not practical from a biological standpoint.
Results of the spring hearings should be available as of April 11. The results can be accessed at dnr.wi.gov.
Craig Turk may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.