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People hunting on Wisconsin state park properties will be prohibited from shooting from or across certain trails – those trails closed to hunting – and anyone trapping in state parks will be limited to dog-proof or underwater traps.
These modifications to Wisconsin Act 168 were adopted today as emergency rules by the Natural Resources Board at its meeting in Pembine.
Act 168 was approved by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker in 2012. The intent is to expand outdoor recreation opportunities and to make it easier for people to participate in hunting, trapping and fishing. Among other things, Act 168 expanded hunting opportunities on state park properties and opened them to trapping for the first time.
Act 168 allowed the Department of Natural Resources to prohibit hunting in designated use areas. Following a series of public meetings, the state parks program prepared hunting maps for all state park properties indicating areas closed and open to hunting. Closed areas include those parts of the park within 100 feet of designated use areas, such as parking lots, campgrounds and picnic areas, as well as property within 100 feet of certain trails. The Natural Resources Board approved these maps at its December 2012 meeting.
The emergency rule adopted today clarifies that it is illegal for a hunter standing in an area open to hunting to shoot across a trail closed to hunting or across any area within 100 feet of such a trail.
Under its authority to restrict hunting in parks for safety reasons, the board previously specified that hunting can take place in state parks in the spring from April 1 through the Tuesday nearest May 3, and that hunting and trapping can take place in the fall from Nov. 15 through Dec. 15. An exception allows archery hunting to continue through the Sunday nearest Jan. 6.
At that same meeting the board directed DNR staff to establish emergency rules prohibiting the discharge of firearms from or across designated trails and to restrict trappers to the use of dog proof or underwater traps.
“These are common sense rules that most hunters would abide by anyway for safety reasons,” said Dan Schuller, director of the Wisconsin State Parks program.
The prohibition will prevent the discharge of firearms, air-guns, bows and crossbows from or across any designated hiking trail on a state park property map. The prohibition was already in place on any Ice Age National Scenic Trail property.
The rules use an existing trap-type definition known as “enclosed trigger trap” that meets the requirements of being a “dog proof trap.” These are traps with a pull-activated trigger inside an enclosure with a recessed opening. The rules allow trapping under normal regulations in certain situations where the traps are submerged in water.
The emergency rules will be in effect when hunting and trapping opens on Wisconsin state park properties Nov. 15. The DNR is in the process of promulgating a permanent rule that will contain language identical to this rule. The permanent rule will be the subject of public hearings and will need to be approved by the Natural Resources Board at a future meeting.
For more information, search the DNR website dnr.wi.gov for “hunting state parks.”