Public invited to discuss hunting in Wis. state parks, trails
How best to open Wisconsin state parks to hunting and trapping will be the subject of five public "listening sessions" this October and November. The Natural Resources Board scheduled the hearings to help guide the Department of Natural Resources' enforcement of Wisconsin Act 168, which will open all state parks and trails to all hunting and trapping seasons starting January 1, 2013.
The law won overwhelmingly support in the Legislature but has drawn the ire of some of nonhunting visitors of state parks and trails which they feel should remain safe areas in which to recreate during hunting seasons.
"Wisconsin parks and trails represent a minuscule portion of huntable lands, and it's a public safety issue," Friends of the Kettle Moraine Board Member Jerry Moriarty said. "Hunters and trappers will now have access to over five million acres, including park and trail acreage. State parks represents a tiny fraction of this total. This dichotomy doesn't make sense."
According to the draft "2011-2016 Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan" or SCORP, more than 50 percent of state residents are park and trail users compared to 22 percent who identify themselves as hunters or trappers. SCORP also indicates there is a dwindling number of hunters and trapper while the park and trail visits are on the rise.
Park users are frustrated that hunting groups have the political muscle to push into WI parks.
Wisconsin Act 168 includes a provision to prohibit hunting and trapping within 100 yards of designated use areas such as campgrounds, picnic areas and possibly some trails. Under the legislation, the Natural Resources Board can also prohibit hunting, fishing and trapping where foot traffic would harm unique or rare species.
The NRB listening sessions were set to take place in Fitchburg on October 29, Eau Claire on October 30, Merrill on November 5, Appleton on November 9 and in Waukesha either November 13 or 14. NRB members are expected to attend these sessions and give guidance on how the DNR will work through this emotionally charged issue.
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