Wolf season among bills passed
Governor Scott Walker signed five bills into law in Woodruff, relating to environmental and sporting issues.
Senate Bill 411 provides for a wolf hunting and trapping season in Wisconsin from October 15th through the end of February if the wolf is removed from the United States and Wisconsin lists of endangered and threatened species. This establishes Wisconsin as the first state to have a wolf hunting season east of the Mississippi.
“With this law, we are opening the door for the DNR to have rules in place for a wolf hunt beginning in October of this year,” Governor Walker said. “The Wisconsin wolf population has grown from about 25 wolves in 1980 to more than 800. The swelling wolf population has created a hardship for many farmers and homeowners. The DNR is ready to put the rules in place that will allow them to reduce the herd to a healthy, sustainable level.”
He signed Senate Bill (SB) 326, legislation that streamlines several permitting processes in the Department of Natural Resources. Specifically the bill addresses regulations that are duplicative, vague or confusing and requires specified timelines for permit applications and provides greater transparency of the process by making more information available electronically.
“This is common sense legislation that falls in line with our efforts to continue to improve relations between Wisconsin residents and the Department of Natural Resources,” Walker said. “The DNR is now focused on customer service as well as protecting our natural resources. We’re pleased with the positive feedback we’ve received from the public so far, and believe this legislation keeps us on the right track.”
Bill 311 creates a 12-member Sporting Heritage Council in the Department of Natural Resources. The Council will study issues relating to hunting, trapping, fishing and other outdoor activities and consider options to increase access to land. The bill also offers incentives to people who recruit others to sporting activities, calls for two free fishing weekends in the state (up from one previously), reduces license fees for first time applicants, requires the DNR to offer certain education courses online, allows school boards to grant one-half credit for hunter education, creates a disabled hunting permit, and lowers the minimum age for a sturgeon spearing license from 14 to 12.
“Outdoor sports including hunting, fishing and trapping are part of the heritage of our state, but in recent years, participation has been declining,” Walker said. “In fact, a recent study from the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance found that Wisconsin has only five new hunters joining the sport for every ten that leave. This legislation encourages greater involvement in our long held tradition of outdoors sports for generations to come.”
Senate Bill 472 creates a consistent statewide approach to shoreland zoning standards. This bill protects homeowners from changes to zoning ordinances based on municipality. Under the new law, counties may not enact shoreland zoning rules that are more restrictive than standards developed by the DNR.
“This bill provides owners of legal, nonconforming homes and lots greater certainty as to how they can repair, maintain and improve their property,” Walker said. “We can respect the value of property ownership and protect our shorelines at the same time.”
Assembly Bill 467 allows the state to defer consideration of greenhouse gas emissions due to carbon dioxide originating from the combustion or decomposition of biodegradable material while the EPA studies the impact of the emissions. This bill reduces the cost of obtaining and complying with air permit requirements and matches policies from neighboring states.
“This bill is important for Wisconsin as the newly implemented regulation of greenhouse gases adds significant cost to many industries, including the paper industry,” Walker said. “This exemption removes a burden from these industries while maintaining our ability to protect our air quality.”