For Antigo Times
MADISON – The state Natural Resources Board approved a record number of bear harvest permits at its meeting Wednesday in Madison. The 11,520 permits are intended reach a bear harvest quota of 4,750 and to stabilize the bear population in three bear management units of the state and decrease the population in a fourth unit where there has been a high level of nuisance bear complaints.
“The last seven bear seasons represent the highest bear harvests in state history and Wisconsin continues to lead the nation with more bears harvested than in any other state,” Dave MacFarland, carnivore staff specialist for the Department of Natural Resources, told board members.
“Quotas were developed though the evolution of population monitoring, harvest conflict, and input from key stakeholders,” MacFarland said.
The season structure for the 2016 bear hunt is Zone C (dogs not permitted) Sept. 7 to Oct. 11 – with aid of bait and all other legal methods not using dogs. All other zones (use of dogs permitted): Sept. 7-13 – with aid of bait and all other legal methods not using dogs; Sept. 14 to Oct. 4 – with aid of bait, dogs, and all other legal methods; and Oct. 5-11 – with aid of dogs only. For more information, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword “bear.”
The board also approved a proposed trail network amendment to the master plan for Blue Mound State Park. The proposed trail network includes a 1.4-mile snowmobile trail corridor that connects the Military Ridge State Trail to Blue Mound State Park and continues north between 40 and 50 feet from the Mounds Park Road road-edge to the intersection at Ryan Road. The route will cross Ryan Road and continue to the northern boundary of the park.
The DNR revised the draft trail network plan amendment to retain a popular mountain bike trail, with some modification to improve trail sustainability, provide a core of un-fragmented interior forest landscape, protect sensitive waterways and continue access to the eastern edge of the park after receiving a large majority of comments in favor of retaining the trail after an original draft called for removing the trail.
The board also approved the fisheries and wildlife questions for the 2016 spring fish and wildlife rules hearings and meetings. The wildlife questions include two rule proposals and two advisory questions:
- A rule proposal to allow the overnight placement of tree stands on department managed lands north of State Highway 64.
- A rule proposal to establish that the legal hours for taking game be referred to as “shooting hours” rather than “hunting hours.”
- An advisory question seeking input on preferences for first-come, first-served, over-the-counter sales of antlerless deer hunting permits that are limited in number verses issuing permits through random drawings.
- An advisory question seeking input on beaver trapping season preferences.
If the rules proposals are approved at the spring rules hearings on April 11, the DNR would develop a final rule package with specific requirements for implementing the rules to be presented to the board in May. If the board approves that package, the rules could be in place for the 2017 hunting seasons, pending legislative review.
The fisheries management program is proposing two advisory questions for the spring meetings:
- Do you favor having a local public notice and input process in place, separate from the Spring Hearings, to more quickly change regulations to the most common or “statewide” regulation for a specific fish species on inland lakes?
- Do you favor having a local public notice and input process in place, separate from the Spring Hearings, to more quickly change regulations for specific fish species on inland lakes when they are under certain consumption advisories?