DNR considering new hunting rules in state parks

CREATED Apr 8, 2013

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PEWAUKEE - There's new life to the debate over hunting in state parks.

The Wisconsin Conservation Congress surveyed communities around the state Monday about whether they'd support an expanded hunting season in state parks.

Right now, the Natural Resources Board has limited hunting and trapping to just regular seasons. The law originally passed approved the activity from Oct. 15 to just before Memorial Day.

The survey was part of an annual DNR Spring meeting. Results of the vote are nonbinding but will be forwarded to the Natural Resources Board (which sets policy for the DNR) and the legislature.

In Waukesha County, the idea is met with concern from those who use state parks recreationally for hiking, skiing, camping etc. But hunters in the area believe there is room for the two to safely co-exist.

"There's areas away from the high traffic other trails, the hikers, cross country skiers that hunting could be available, especially for bow hunters," explained Jeff Perlewitz who is a long-time bow hunter.

He believes parks should be looked at on an individual basis based on their use. And that this won't be the last of this debate.

"I believe our voices will be taken here, all the way to the governor's office."

Meanwhile, people like Jim Waltz have mixed feelings about the idea. He routinely visits state parks to jog and walk his dog.

"It kind of spooks you out knowing there might be people shooting a gun you don't know where the bullets going to go," said Waltz.

But, he agrees if the space is large enough, perhaps there is room for hunters and hikers.

"If they've got a huge, huge park, I'm not opposed to that because hunters have to have their rights too."

Kathleen Raddatz doesn't see any middle ground.

"That would be a huge concern to snow-shoers, skiers, picnics. You better hope the bullets obey the boundary lines of hunting."