More than a catfight: Fishing, hunting rules go before public
Written by Green Bay Press-Gazette   
Wednesday, 06 April 2005 03:33
Cats have dominated discussion about the Wisconsin Conservation Congress this year, but the annual meeting includes everything from water weed management to establishing a length limit for northern pike on a specific lake in Barron County.

The Conservation Congress is a time-honored grass-roots tradition of local government in Wisconsin, where hunters and fans of the outdoors give their two cents on state regulations.

The cat controversy cropped up when a firefighter from La Crosse, Mark Smith, proposed last year that hunters be allowed to shoot feral and free-roaming cats to reduce their numbers. The question was included on the statewide list for 2005.

In Green Bay, firefighter Terry Eckstein has his own proposal this spring: establishing a separate deer tag for muzzle-loading gun season. Currently hunters can take a deer with a muzzle-loader only if they didn?t get a deer on a standard gun-season tag. Eckstein said a separate tag would be more reliable and he wouldn?t mind paying a little for it.

"I?ll throw the idea out there, and if people don?t like it, it won?t break my heart," said Eckstein, who plans to attend Monday?s meeting for Brown County at Franklin Middle School.

The meeting is set up in two parts. The first part is known as a "Spring Rule Hearing" where the state Department of Natural Resources and Natural Resources Board ask questions about rules they are writing. The second part is where questions from the public are handled and introduced.

Other issues being addressed Monday:

? Question 28 asks whether people favor a new fee for fishing tournament permits that would fund more research into the practice of "culling" during a tournament. Culling allows fishermen to throw back fish if they catch a larger one. Depending on how long the fish has been in a live well, culling could impact the fish?s health and survival.

? Questions 48, 55, and 58 deal with nuisance "exotic" species, such as the pesky water weed known as Eurasian water milfoil. The first of the three asks for public support to establish a new state fund to combat water weeds, which are a common problem in many Wisconsin waters, including the bay of Sturgeon Bay. The other two questions ask whether the public wants to support stricter enforcement of laws against possessing and transporting exotic species.

? Questions 47, 67, 68 and 69 deal with lowering the hunting age, currently set at 12 years old with a parent or guardian until 14.

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