The following is a summary of Wisconsin BHA's position statements on proposals put forth as pat of the spring WI Conservation Congress meeting.
QUESTION 8: Do you support restricting the placement of artificial water sources that are not for agricultural purposes of attracting deer or elk in CWD affected counties?
Wisconsin BHA recommends that you vote “Yes” on this question. The spread of CWD constitutes an existential threat to the future of deer hunting in Wisconsin. CWD is spread more quickly when deer are congregated by artificial means. While we cannot stop deer from naturally congregating, we can reduce disease transmission by adjusting our hunting practices.
QUESTION 11: Do you support eliminating the antlerless-only holiday firearm deer season if an additional 10 days of firearm deer hunting will occur after the traditional 9-day season?
Wisconsin BHA is recommending that you vote “No” on this question. We believe it is important that CDAC’s continue to have access to every tool available when making recommendations on how to manage deer herds within their counties.
QUESTION 16: Do you support the department working with the legislature to restrict the baiting and feeding of deer statewide?
Wisconsin BHA recommends that you vote “Yes” to this question. As stated in question 8 above, WI BHA takes the threat of CWD very seriously. While we cannot stop deer from naturally congregating, we can reduce disease transmission by adjusting our hunting practices.
Question 19: Do you support legislation that would return authority to the DNR to utilize Earn-A-Buck as a herd management tool in overpopulated counties?
Wisconsin BHA recommends that you vote “Yes” to this question. Earn-A-Buck is an effective tool for controlling the deer population in certain areas of the state and needs to be available for use in those areas.
Question 20: If greater flexibility is returned to the DNR, do you support allowing CDACs the ability to make recommendations regarding using Earn-A-Buck in their respective counties?
Wisconsin BHA recommends that you vote “Yes” to this question. As stated above, Earn-A-Buck is an effective tool and it needs to be available for use by CDACs. As we saw in Buffalo County last year, the only tool currently available to CDACs in counties where hunters are unable to control the population on a voluntary basis is to recommend a season where only antlerless deer may be taken. A less drastic option is needed.
Question 21: Do you support legislation that would give more authority to the DNR to determine baiting and feeding regulations, including when and where bans are put in place?
Wisconsin BHA recommends that you vote “Yes” to this question. WI BHA supports the scientific management of public lands, waters, and wildlife. WI BHA also supports natural resources professionals being allowed to perform their jobs using scientific management. Currently, baiting and feedings bans have the potential to expire due to legislation created by politicians who ignored scientific management and those who understand it.
Question 22: If greater flexibility is returned to the DNR, do you support allowing CDACs the ability to make recommendations regarding baiting and feeding in their respective counties?
Wisconsin BHA recommends that you vote “Yes” to this question. In the event that the DNR is given greater authority in determining whether baiting and feeding regulations are needed, it will be important that the local CDACs have the ability to provide input regarding those decisions.
Question 28: Would you support the WCC informing the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy that the proposed Back 40 mining Project poses a significant threat to the water quality in the Menominee River and Lake Michigan?
Wisconsin BHA recommends that you vote “Yes” to this question. This project proposes to construct a 800 foot deep open pit sulfide mine less than 100 feet from the river. There is a significant risk that this will mine fail and cause significant damage to this valuable waterway and its wildlife (including the Lake Sturgeon). These risks must be considered when determining if this project will be permitted to go forward.
QUESTIONS 55: Would you favor the legislature creating an alternative funding source in addition to license fees?
Wisconsin BHA recommends that you vote “Yes” to this question. The department is chronically under-funded and desperately needs additional funding. We support the legislature exploring alternative sources for this funding.
RESOLUTION VOTES: When voting online, you will have the opportunity to vote on resolutions submitted within your county. There are two resolutions WI BHA supports that may be located in your county. WI BHA recommends you vote “Yes” to the following resolutions should they appear in your county.
- CWD Leadership Needed
Once again, Wisconsin led the nation with 1,329 CWD-positive deer detected in 2019, including in 3 new counties. It will take more than simply testing and providing carcass dumpsters to curb the spread and rising prevalence of this disease. A CWD vaccine, if even possible, is years away. Quicker CWD test research is helpful but does nothing for hunters looking for increasingly scarce CWD-free venison to eat. We need leadership to fight the CWD fire that is burning across Wisconsin.
Our nation’s best CWD experts have created a clear battle plan we should follow. Their Best Management Practices for reducing disease prevalence relies on hunters and hunting to cool CWD hotspots that create increasing numbers of infected deer, including young dispersing deer. Simply put, they believe Wisconsin’s deer hunters can stop CWD. To do so, our elected, and appointed leaders must show leadership and provide hunters and landowners the support needed to be effective. They should reward hunters and landowners for doing the hard work of removing infected deer and remove the regulatory constraints that make hunters less effective.
BE IT RESOLVED that the Conservation Congress at its annual meeting held on April 13, 2020 recommends that Governor Evers, Wisconsin’s legislators, the Natural Resources Board, and Secretary Cole unite to implement measures that will reverse CWD prevalence increases quickly.
- Wisconsin Wildlife Passage
With the advent of commercial trophy hunting people are now willing to construct fences above legal minimum for the purpose of redirecting free-range wildlife. Other states have recognized this taking of public property and Wisconsin should too.
Currently, any landowner who is not a Wisconsin wild animal farm can construct fence unlimited in height and length with the exception of one 33-foot opening. In 2017 a Trempealeau County game farm put an opening in their fence. They received criminal charges, civil penalties for illegal hunting, and charged with “The unauthorized taking of live wild animals from the wild.” If the ranch were NOT a captive wildlife farm, due to current Wisconsin law, what they did would have been legal.
Free range wildlife is common property and therefore, the property of all. Wisconsin currently has no fence laws protecting free-range wildlife. Michigan, for example, has enacted legislation balancing private and public property rights by requiring wildlife passages. Sections of fence no more than 52 inches high constitute a “passage” as long as other factors do not act as a barrier.
Would you support the Conservation Congress working with the state legislature to enact legislation, similar to Michigan and other states, prohibiting the taking of public property by requiring fence lines have wildlife passages 40 feet wide, no more than 660 feet apart, and property corners have passages extending 20 feet in either direction?