The statement of scope for this rule, SS 083-22 was approved by the Governor on October 20, 2022, published in Register No. 802A4 on October 24, 2022, and approved by the Natural Resources Board on December 14, 2022. This rule was approved by the Governor on November 8, 2023.
The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board proposes an order to repeal NR 10.12 (3) (b); to amend NR 10.01 (2) (g) 1. and (4) (c) 4., 10.06 (5), 10.12 (3) (c), and 10.125 (1), (5) (a), and (6); to repeal and recreate NR 10.01 (1); and to create NR 10.001 (20) relating to establishing the 2023-2024 migratory bird season framework and regulations.
Analysis Prepared by the Department of Natural Resources
1. Statute Interpreted: Chapter 29 of the Wisconsin Statutes addresses the department’s authority with respect to wild animals and plants. Section 29.014(1), Stats., confers broad rule-making authority to the department to “establish and maintain open and closed seasons for fish and game and any bag limits, size limits, rest days and conditions governing the taking of fish and game that will conserve the fish and game supply and ensure the citizens of this state continued opportunities for good fishing, hunting and trapping. This grant of rule-making authority allows the department to promulgate rules related to migratory game bird hunting.
Additionally, s. 29.197 (2), Stats. allows the department to waive the requirement for certain approvals if the department determines that certain requirements are met.
2. Statutory Authority: In promulgating these rules, statutes being interpreted or establishing agency authority include s. 29.014 (1) and s. 29.197 (2), Stats.
3. 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 hunting regulations.
4. Related Statutes or Rules: This rule is related to emergency rule WM-15-22 (E).
5. Plain Language Analysis:
Section 1 clarifies the boundary of the Open Water Migratory Zone.
Section 2 establishes migratory season dates and bag limits on a multi-year basis consistent with public input and Federal regulations.
Section 3 changes the dates of the crow season. It also updates a reference to the duck season.
Section 4 updates a cross reference to the teal season.
Sections 5 and 6 simplify the open water restrictions on all approved inland open water hunting lakes by creating a standard setback of 500 feet.
Section 7 updates cross references to the season dates for geese. This Section allows hunters during the youth waterfowl hunt to harvest a goose without a goose permit. It also deletes an outdated reference to the interior and exterior goose zones.
6. Summary of, and Comparison with, Existing or Proposed Federal Statutes and Regulations: Migratory bird species are managed under federal law. The USFWS annually promulgates regulations and guidelines which permit states to administer migratory bird seasons. State migratory bird regulations must fall within the guidelines and sideboards established by the USFWS. Therefore, these rules are consistent with federal regulations.
7. If Held, Summary of Comments Received During Preliminary Comment Period
and at Public Hearing on the Statement of Scope: The department did not hold a preliminary hearing for this scope statement.
8. Comparison with Similar Rules in Adjacent States: Since migratory bird species are managed under federal law, each region of the country is organized in a specific geographic flyway which represents distinct migratory game bird populations. Wisconsin, along with Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, and Iowa, are members of the Mississippi Flyway. Each year the states included in the flyways meet to discuss regulations and guidelines offered to the flyways by the USFWS. The USFWS regulations and guidelines for the Mississippi Flyway apply to all states within the Flyway, and therefore the regulations in the adjoining states closely resemble the rules established in this rule order, and only differ slightly based on hunter desires, habitat, and population management goals. However, these variations fall within guidelines and sideboards established by the USFWS.
9. Summary of Factual Data and Analytical Methodologies Used and How Any Related Findings Support the Regulatory Approach Chosen:
This rule provides that the department secretary may by order annually select migratory bird species bag limits which are equal to the maximum allowable bag limits authorized by the USFWS, unless a lesser bag limit is indicated in the rule. The state’s bag limits have primarily been the maximum allowable by the USFWS with the exception of the Canada goose season. The State of Wisconsin must comply with federal allowances in the establishment of migratory bird hunting seasons and conditions. Federal allowances are not made available to states until the same year that the regulations must be implemented. Normal rule-making procedures do not allow the promulgation of permanent rules prior to when the seasons should be open so historically the season frameworks were established on a yearly basis through the use of an emergency rule. Use of an order pairs well with federal timelines and give hunters additional time to plan for the hunting seasons.
This rule adjusts and simplifies the open water restrictions on all approved inland open water hunting lakes. This change was initially implemented by an emergency rule during the 2022 migratory season and will be continued by this rule. In 2011 the Department identified several inland lakes that would be open to open water hunting. At that time, the minimum distance from shore where hunters can be without having to adhere to concealment regulations was set to “greater than 1000 feet” as a precaution until the Department had some time to review how this opportunity was utilized. With these regulations having been in place more than a decade, the Department feels that the 1000-foot restriction can be reduced to 500 feet, a distance which would align the definition of open water hunting for both the inland lakes and the Great Lakes. This change simplifies regulations while adding additional open water hunting opportunity on these identified inland lakes. Public input was in support of this rule simplification.
This rule will also continue the clarification of the duck zone boundary for the Open Water Zone—another item which was initially implemented by the 2022 emergency rule. Specifically, this rule will update the definition of the Open Water Zone boundary as, “waters greater than 500 feet from the mainland shore of Green Bay and Lake Michigan; for the purposes of the Open Water Zone, mainland shore includes all adjacent rooted vegetation, adjacent floating cattail and Long Tail and Little Tail points.
During the annual two-day youth waterfowl hunt in September, hunters under the age of 16 are allowed to hunt all species of wild duck, mergansers, geese, coots, and moorhens. During this youth season all license and stamp requirements are waived, except for the state Canada Goose Hunting Permit. This rule waives the state Canada Goose Hunting Permit for youth hunters during the youth waterfowl hunt. Waiving this permit would provide consistency to youth hunters by waiving all applicable state and federal license, stamps and permits for the youth season.
This rule also adjusts the crow season dates. The department is allowed to establish a crow season that last no more than 124 days. Previously, the crow season began on the Saturday nearest September 15 and continued until the Thursday before the opening of the gun deer season in November. The season would then reopen in January and then close on March 20th for a 124-day season. This rule would set a single continuous crow season that would begin on the same day the gun deer season opens and last for 124 days. A single continuous open season is less complex for hunters to remember and most crow hunting takes place during the winter after other hunting seasons have closed.
10. Analysis and Supporting Documents Used to Determine the Effect on Small Business or in Preparation of an Economic Impact Report: These rules, and the legislation which grants the Department rule-making authority, do not have fiscal effects on the private sector or small businesses. No costs to the private sector or small businesses are associated with compliance to these rules.
11. Effect on Small Business (initial regulatory flexibility analysis): These rules are applicable to individual sportspersons and impose no compliance or reporting requirements for small businesses, and no design or operational standards are contained in the rule. Because this rule does not add any regulatory requirements for small businesses, the proposed rules will not have an economic impact on a substantial number of small businesses under s. 227.24(3m), Stats.
12. Agency Contact Person: Taylor Finger, Migratory Bird Specialist, 101 South Webster Street, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921, (608) 266-8841
Links to Admin. Code and Statutes in this Register are to current versions, which may not be the version that was referred to in the original published document.