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Board partially restricts hunting in state parks

Published On: Dec 11 2012 06:51:14 PM CST   Updated On: Dec 11 2012 08:56:03 PM CST
MADISON, Wis. -

The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board has approved a plan restricting hunting in state parks. It also limited the dates hunting will be allowed.

The board met Tuesday in Madison, where it heard from scores of residents upset about the new law opening up nearly all of Wisconsin's state parks and trails to hunting.

Because of public backlash in recent weeks, the state Department of Natural Resources proposed a compromise for the board to consider. The DNR suggested making about 36 percent of state parkland off-limits for any hunting.

The board accepted that proposal, and went further by limiting the hunting seasons. Whereas the DNR proposed allowing hunting in the remaining parks between mid-October and late May, the board restricted hunting to one month in autumn and another in April.

The law prohibits hunting and setting of traps within 100 yards of trails and other designated areas. Still, some speakers at Tuesday's meeting said they are concerned about gunfire and traps in areas frequented by families and pets.

"A state park is not for hunting," said Denny Dewing, speaking at the Natural Resources Board's hearing.

Other speakers said hunters already have enough access to hunting grounds.

"I'm just requesting that they go back to the legislature and admit that they cannot safely implement the law," said Sheila Williams, a speaker at the Natural Resources Board's hearing.

The law, Act 168, otherwise known as the "Sporting Heritage Bill," gives hunters and trappers permission to use state park land starting next year.

Dan Schuller, director of Wisconsin's state parks, said he believes there's enough room for everyone at the parks.

"By separating out these activities, we're providing a quality experience both for our hunters and trappers, as well as our other users in parks," Schuller said.

Schuller said wildlife control is another advantage to opening up park land to hunters and trappers.

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