Annual Fish & Game Rule Hearings

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Wisconsin residents will exercise their annual opportunity to vote on proposed fish and wildlife management rule changes at the Department of Natural Resources’ spring conservation hearings held simultaneously in each county at 7:00 p.m., Monday, April 12.

Highlighting this year’s agenda are proposals to lengthen the fall turkey season, allow deer to be skinned prior to registration, and a Natural Resources Board advisory question to expand the deer gun season.

Area proposals in south central Wisconsin include lowering the daily bag limit for catfish on the Lower Wisconsin River and raising the harvest slot limit for catfish and walleye on Yellowstone Lake in Lafayette County.

The hearings are held prior to the Wisconsin Conservation Congress county meetings. Statewide wildlife rule changes will be addressed first followed by discussion of local rule changes in the counties identified as impacted or in those counties where someone in attendance brings it up for discussion. Statewide fisheries rule changes and local fishery proposals follow, under the same procedure as wildlife.

Everyone will be given an opportunity to comment on the questions, but individuals are limited to three minutes for each proposal.

Among the statewide questions is a proposal to open the fall turkey season on Oct. 1 starting in 2005. Currently, the fall turkey season opens on the Saturday nearest Oct. 10, so this proposal would add 10 days to the hunting season.

Another statewide rule change would allow hunters to skin their deer prior to registration. The rationale behind this proposal is to prevent meat spoiling in seasons that may be warm, for instance during early seasons or in the event of another warm deer gun season.

The state Natural Resources Board, the seven member policy making body for DNR, is seeking public input on changing Wisconsin’s deer hunting framework to include expanding the gun deer season from nine to 23 days.

The deer gun season would begin on the traditional opening day – the Saturday before Thanksgiving – and continue until the second Sunday in December. Among other details of the Board’s advisory question are:

* Zone T & Earn-A-Buck – the expanded deer gun season would eliminate the current four -day October and four-day December Zone T/Earn-A-Buck seasons.

* Late Archery Season – after closing for one day (Friday), the late archery season would begin the same day as the deer gun season opener (Saturday) and continue until January 3.

* Muzzleloader Season – the separate muzzleloader season would be eliminated and instead incorporated into the gun season while the restriction on scopes over 1-power also dropped.

* Permits – each hunter would receive one either-sex and one antlerless tag except in non-quota units where the hunter would get one antlered permit and no antlerless permit would be issued.

Locally, the daily bag limit for catfish would drop from 25 to 10 in total on the Lower Wisconsin River from the Wisconsin Dells dam in Columbia and Sauk Counties downstream through Dane, Iowa, Richland, Grant and Crawford Counties.

Also, the harvest slot limit for catfish and walleye would increase from a 12-inch minimum and a 15-inch maximum length to a 15-inch minimum and 18-inch maximum length limit on Yellowstone Lake in Lafayette County.

Following are the hearing locations in south central Wisconsin.

Columbia – Columbia County Courthouse, 400 DeWitt St., Portage

Dane – Alliant Energy Center (Dane County Expo Center), 1919 Alliant Energy Way, Madison

Dodge – Horicon City Hall, 404 E. Lake St., Horicon

Grant – Lancaster High School, Hillary Auditorium, 806 E. Elm St., Lancaster

Green – Pleasant View Annex, Auditorium, N3150 Hwy. 81, Monroe

Iowa – Dodgeville High School, Gymnasium, 912 W. Chapel St., Dodgeville

Jefferson – Jefferson County Fair Park, Activity Center, 503 N. Jackson St., Jefferson

Lafayette – Darlington High School, Cafeteria, 11630 Center Hill Rd., Darlington

Richland – Richland County Courthouse, Courtroom, 181 W. Seminary St., Richland Center

Sauk – Ringling Theatre, 136 4th Ave., Baraboo