MADISON – More than 5,000 people came out to participate in the 2017 Spring Fish and Wildlife Hearings and Wisconsin Conservation Congress county meetings that were held in every county statewide on Monday, April 10.
The public hearings provide citizens with an opportunity to comment and indicate preference on a wide range of proposed fish and wildlife management issues, Conservation Congress advisory questions, and to submit resolutions for rule changes they would like to see in the future.
People voting on the department’s wildlife management administrative rule proposals supported the option to list the monk parrot as a depredating species under wildlife damage and nuisance control rules, as well as eliminating the fall turkey permit drawing in favor of an over-the-counter issuance. The majority of voters favored the fisheries management rule change idea to allow trolling with 1 hook, bait or lure per angler and a maximum of three hooks, baits or lures per boat in Florence, Iron, Lincoln, Oneida, Sheboygan, Vilas and Waupaca counties and allow trolling with up to three hooks, baits or lures per angler in all other waters of the state.
Citizens also supported the option to have a shorter regulation change process for fishing on individual lakes or a chain of lakes in response to a fish consumption advisory. Attendees favored a number of Wisconsin Conservation Congress advisory proposals including allowing the assistant of a disabled hunter to pursue and dispatch a legally wounded animal, increasing lead reclamation efforts and training at shooting ranges, and fee increases to support aquatic furbearer research and cold water fish hatcheries.
Meeting results, along with written comments on the evening’s questions and DNR recommendations are used to advise the state Natural Resources Board. This year’s results will be reviewed at the board’s May 24meeting in Madison. Votes are non-binding and are presented to the Natural Resources Board as a gauge of the public’s support or non-support for proposed changes.
The hearings are held annually on the second Monday in April in conjunction with the Wisconsin Conservation Congress county meetings. DNR related proposals are presented to attendees by DNR staff. Following DNR business, the meeting is reconvened as a Conservation Congress meeting and Congress advisory questions are presented.
The Spring Hearings also provide an opportunity for citizens of each county to elect Wisconsin Conservation Congress delegates to represent them on natural resource issues. The Conservation Congress is the only statutorily recognized citizen advisory body to the Natural Resources Board. During the Congress’ portion of the hearing, citizens may introduce resolutions for consideration and vote by those attending the hearings.