Elk Season Delay Supported

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More than 4,800 people attended the 2003 Wisconsin Spring Fish and Wildlife Rules Hearings and Conservation Congress county meetings that were held in each county of the state Monday, April 14.

A series of wildlife rule proposals dealing with a possible hunting season for the state’s recently established elk herd received general support from attendees. In January 2002, the Wisconsin Legislature authorized the department to develop an elk-hunting season framework. The public was asked to respond to defining elk management zones, adopting weapon, hunting season, hunter safety and kill reporting requirements and setting population goals for management zones. Each of the questions was endorsed by overwhelming margins, with more than 3,200 agreeing that any elk season should be delayed until the population reaches at least 200 animals.

Earlier, the Natural Resources Board approved an Elk Management Plan that proposed the opening of an elk-hunting season when the elk population reached 150 animals. Department biologists proposed this change to limit the disruption to Wisconsin’s elk herd during these initial years of population growth. Any change to the existing management plan would require action by the Natural Resources Board at a future meeting.

"The support for delaying any elk hunting until biologists are more confident that we have successfully re-established an elk herd in the state reflects a very strong conservation ethic among the sports men and women of our state," Hassett said.

Results of the hearing are advisory to the state Natural Resources Board, the policy making board for the state Department of Natural Resources. In addition to the advisory questions, each county held elections for local delegates for the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, which is a legislatively established citizen body created in 1934 to advise the Natural Resources Board on fish and wildlife management issues and policy.