Order of the State of Wisconsin Natural Resources Board Repealing, Amending, Repealing and Recreating, and Creating Rules
The statement of scope for this rule, SS 113-14, was approved by the Governor on October 31, 2014, published in Register No. 707, on November 11, 2014, and approved by the Natural Resources Board on December 10, 2014. This permanent rule was approved by the Governor on ___________________.
Analysis Prepared by the Department of Natural Resources
Statutory Authority and Explanation of Agency Authority: The chapter on wild animals and plants, in s. 29.014, Stats., “rule making for this chapter”, establishes that the department shall maintain open and closed seasons for fish and game and any limits, rest days, and conditions for taking fish and game. This grant of rule-making authority allows the department to make changes related to trapping methods and times and the seasons for taking game and furbearing animals. The department’s authority to authorize the removal of wild animals that are causing damage is established under s. 29.885, Stats. Additionally authority to establish conditions for taking game, such as bears, is established in s. 29.014, Stats., as noted above. The establishment of game refuges is authorized in s. 23.09 (2) (b), Stats., relating to the department’s ability to designate locations reasonably necessary for the purpose of providing safe retreats in which birds may rest and replenish adjacent hunting grounds. Statutes Interpreted and Explanation: The chapter on wild animals and plants, in s. 29.014, Stats., “rule making for this chapter”, establishes that the department shall maintain open and closed seasons for fish and game and any limits, rest days, and conditions for taking fish and game. This grant of rule-making authority allows the department to make changes related to trapping methods and times and the seasons for taking game and furbearing animals. Other statutes interpreted include ss. 29.885 and 23.09 (2) (b), Stats.
Related Statute or Rule: There are not directly related statutes or rules.
Plain Language Rule Analysis: These rule changes are proposed for inclusion on the 2015 Spring Hearing rules package and questionnaire. This rule package will create and amend regulations for hunting, trapping and closed areas found in Chs. NR 10 and 11 Wis. Adm. Code.
Section 1 expands the areas where waterfowl hunting is allowed by eliminating the requirement that hunters and blinds be “concealed” if they are within 3 feet of the shoreline. The WI Conservation Congress has recommended modifications to this rule.
Sections 2 to 6 increase the limit on the number of small game animals a person is allowed to possess at home or in transport so that it is three times the daily bag limit instead of two, consistent with federal regulations for migratory game birds.
Sections 3, 4, 6 and 7 establish a 9:00 a.m. opening time on the first day of the pheasant, quail, Hungarian partridge, and southern rabbit seasons instead of noon. The WI Conservation Congress has recommended modifications to this rule.
Section 4 modifies the spring wild turkey hunting season opening date so that it is always the third Wednesday in April. This section also simplifies the fall turkey hunting season framework so that hunting is always allowed on the day before the firearm deer hunting season and so that the season is continuous with no closed periods in Zones 1 to 5 in the southern part of the state.
Sections 8, 9 and 11 allow the use of foot activated cable restraints, a device used to trap furbearing animals and for which best management practices have been approved by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.
Section 10 modifies the standards for construction of cable restraint devices used to trap furbearers to improve their efficiency for catching coyotes.
Section 12 eliminates the trapping hours restriction so that traps may be placed or tended at any time. The WI Conservation Congress has recommended modifications to this rule.
Sections 13 and 14 modify the location and size of a waterfowl hunting closed area at the Wolf River Bottomlands Natural Resources Area on DNR managed lands in Outagamie County.
Federal Regulatory Analysis: Federal regulations allow states to manage the wildlife resources located within their boundaries provided they do not conflict with regulations established in the Federal Register. None of these rule changes violate or conflict with the provisions established in the Federal Code of Regulations.
Comparison with rules in Adjacent States: These rule change proposals do not represent significant policy changes and do not differ significantly from surrounding states. All surrounding states have regulations and rules in place for the management and recreational use of wild game and furbearer species that are established based on needs that are unique to that state’s resources and public desires.
Summary of Factual Data and Analytical Methodologies: All of the policies in this rule are generally consistent with past board policies of regulating fish and game harvest for conservation purposes.
A number of these proposals are recommendations of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress to the Natural Resources Board and initiating a process to promulgate those rules fulfills a role of the board and the congress established in s 15.348 Stats.
This rule proposal would have the effect of expanding the areas where a waterfowl hunter can park a boat (or blind) and hunt. The boat would no longer need to be concealed by emergent vegetation such as rice or cattails. Under this proposal, on-shore vegetation such as reed canary grass could provide the needed concealment. Additionally, dead trees or stumps could be considered concealing vegetation. While it expands areas where waterfowl hunting may occur, this rule would still maintain Wisconsin’s requirement that people hunt from the edges of bodies of water and that they not hunt from open-water, offshore areas. Wisconsin’s open water hunting rule dates back to early conservation statutes and may have been designed to keep hunters from setting up in front of each other and to keep them out of the middle of waters that are used as staging areas by migrating ducks or geese. Providing these areas where there is no hunting pressure may encourage birds to remain in an area longer and provide more chance for birds to spend time feeding and resting during migration. Hunters have supported the rule because it increases hunting opportunity by encouraging birds to remain in an area for longer periods of time.
Currently, the spring turkey hunting season opens on the Wednesday nearest April 13. Under this structure, the spring turkey season overlaps the Memorial Day holiday weekend in approximately one out of every three years (when it falls on the third Wednesday of the month). This proposal would stabilize the season opener so that it falls on the 3rd Wednesday of the month every year, making it more predictable and easier for hunters to schedule their hunts, resulting in the 6th time period always overlapping the Memorial Day holiday weekend, and reducing the likelihood of cold and snow during the Youth Hunt, Learn to Hunt Turkey events, and early time periods.
The fall turkey hunting season is currently closed from the Friday immediately preceding the 9-day gun deer hunt through the Sunday immediately following the 9-day gun deer hunt. This proposal would allow fall turkey hunting on the Friday immediately preceding the 9-day gun deer hunt statewide and, in zones 1 through 5 where the turkey season re-opens after deer season, would eliminate that closed period. This proposal would make the fall turkey hunt consistent with other fall seasons, simplify hunting regulations, and provide some additional hunter opportunity.
Trapping hours currently in place may be designed to deter trap theft or simplify enforcement of a requirement to tend or check traps daily. These rules would eliminate trapping hours. Eliminating trapping hours would simplify regulations and would provide a particular benefit to people whose work schedule conflicts with trapping hours. There is not a furbearer population management purpose for trap checking hours. These rules would maintain the requirement that traps be checked daily.
For simplicity and consistency with new federal regulations for migratory birds, this proposal would increase the limit on the number of small game animals a person is allowed to possess at home or in transport. Instead of the current possession limit which is twice the daily bag limit, it would be three times the daily bag limit, consistent with federal regulations for migratory game birds.