More than 4,300 people turned out for the 2016 Spring Fish and Wildlife Hearings and Wisconsin Conservation Congress meetings held in each of the 72 counties on April 11.
The public hearings provide citizens with an opportunity to comment and indicate preference on a wide range of proposed fish and wildlife management issues, Conservation Congress advisory questions, and to submit resolutions for rule changes they would like to see in the future.
Statewide hearing results and the questions are available on the Spring Rules Hearings page of the DNR website or go to dnr.wi.gov; search 'spring hearings.'
A majority of voters favored ideas to shorten the beaver and otter trapping seasons by two to four weeks on non-trout waters and create a local public notice and input process to change certain fish regulations on inland waters.
Citizens also supported the Wisconsin Conservation Congress' advisory proposals relating to the removal of waterfowl blinds on public lands and the creation of a Wildlife Conservation Stamp.
Many of those in attendance spoke out against issuing antlerless deer permits through a random drawing with application deadline and preference categories.
Other issues drawing opposition included allowing the overnight placement of stands/blinds on DNR lands during firearm/muzzleloader seasons; registration of non-motorized watercraft; and requiring non-toxic shot on all DNR managed lands and non-toxic fishing tackle under one-half ounce in weight
Meeting results, along with written comments on the evening's questions and DNR recommendations, are used to advise the state Natural Resources Board. This year's results will be reviewed at the board's May 25 meeting in Madison. Votes are non-binding and are presented to the Natural Resources Board as a gauge of the public's support or non-support for proposed changes.
The hearings are held annually on the second Monday in April in conjunction with the Wisconsin Conservation Congress county meetings.
The Spring Hearings also provide an opportunity for citizens of each county to elect Wisconsin Conservation Congress delegates to represent them on natural resource issues. The Conservation Congress is the only statutorily recognized citizen advisory body to the Natural Resources Board. During the Congress' portion of the hearing, citizens may introduce resolutions for consideration and vote by those attending the hearings.