Citizens regularly meet at the county level to elect delegates to the Wisconsin Conservation Congress - - and the delegates cast advisory votes that supply state officials and the Department of Natural Resources with grassroots opinion about conservation measures, DNR policies and proposals, including fees, sporting seasons and various regulations.
Many delegaters are hunters, anglers and outdoors recreational enthusiasts, and the Congress has long been a source of input to the agency. Citizen opponents of DNR policies are also free to run for Congress seats.
Here is a link with information about the next round of Congress meetings statewide on April 14th, and some advisory items on a long list that could become controversial:
QUESTION 31. Allow the use of foot cable restraints for harvesting furbearers
A cable restraint is a device used for the live capture of furbearers. The device consists of a non-spring activated cable which includes a relaxing mechanical lock, stops, and swivel. International research on humane trap systems has documented the safe use of cable restraints on dry land, with much of the field research conducted here in Wisconsin from 2000 to 2002. Beginning in 2004 our law has allowed the statewide use of passive neck cable restraints for bobcat, coyote, fox and more recently, wolf. Use of this tool is during the latter portion of the trapping seasons beginning on December 1st, as a respectful, precautionary measure to minimize incidental contact with other wildlife and domestic dogs. This device has proven to be safe, humane and selective.
Additional trap research conducted following the same protocols has shown the foot cable restraint to pass all injury score systems for these same species, especially wolves. Use of this tool could be allowed with the same start date as currently approved for passive neck cable restraints, December 1st. Use of this tool during the latter portion of harvest seasons will minimize contact with black bear, allow careful review, and provide an additional, versatile tool for trappers.
31. Do you favor allowing the use of foot cable restraints during the latter potion of the furbearer harvest seasons, beginning on December 1st?
QUESTION 36. Tundra swan season (050112, 200412, 630112, 670612, 680112) (Requires legislation)
The tundra swan is the most common swan in North American and has very few predators. Wisconsin is within the range of the eastern population of tundra Swans and could develop a state tundra swan hunting proposal for consideration at the flyway and federal level. Tundra swans tend to favor larger bodies of water in great numbers as compared to trumpeter swans, which commonly stay in smaller groups and prefer smaller ponds and marshes. The trumpeter swan is well established as a breeding swan in Wisconsin and was removed from the state endangered list in 2009.
Studies have shown tundra swan population numbers are currently rising, even with hunting allowed in other states. Each year tens of thousands of tundra swans migrate through Wisconsin with recent peak population counts on the Mississippi River of over 30,000 swans. Wisconsin could benefit from allowing a hunt unique to very few other states.
36. Are you in favor of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress asking the Wisconsin Legislature to give the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources authority to develop a hunting season for tundra swans?
[Blog editor's note - - Information here about the Tundra Swan]
Photo by Bates Littlehales
QUESTION 48. Retrieval of hunting dogs from property without landowner permission (230113, 250113, 330113, 540313) (Requires legislation)
Hunting dogs can stray onto property where their owners do not have permission to be. Currently the animal cannot be legally retrieved without the property owner’s permission. Property owners cannot always be located to obtain the necessary permission to retrieve a hunting dog. A quick retrieval is always in the best interests of the dog, dog owner, and property owner. In the states of Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, and Iowa a person on foot may, without permission, enter private land without a firearm to retrieve a hunting dog. After retrieving the dog, the person must immediately leave the premises. This exception does not authorize the taking of wild game.
48. Do you support legislation that would allow the owner of a hunting dog the ability to retrieve their hunting dog without landowner’s permission?
QUESTION 58. Wolf Trapper Education (500113) (Requires legislation)
WOLF COMMITTEE ADVISORY QUESTION
Wisconsin citizens now have the opportunity to manage wolves in our state. Regulated trapping is an important aspect of harvest management. In 2012, 52% of the wolves harvested were by licensed trappers and in 2013, 65% of wolves were harvested through trapping. However, this did not come about without concerns and protests by various user groups, especially upland bird hunters and citizens concerned about their dogs coming into contact with traps.
Although basic trapper education has been mandatory since 1992, wolf trapping is new, specialized and requires larger traps. For these reasons the Wisconsin Trappers Association, in cooperation with the DNR entered into a Memorandum of Understanding that identified the duties of each organization in offering voluntary wolf trapper education workshops tailored after the highly successful Wisconsin Cooperative Trapper Education Program. Feedback from the voluntary wolf trapper education workshops suggests that this course was extremely useful for those who trapped wolves in Wisconsin. Other states such as Montana and Idaho already require wolf trapper education.
58. Do you support mandatory wolf trapper education for everyone before they can trap wolves in Wisconsin?