More than 6,800 people came out to participate in the 2018 Spring Fish and Wildlife Hearings and Wisconsin Conservation Congress county meetings that were held in every county statewide on Monday, April 9.
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.
People voting on the department's wildlife management advisory questions supported restricting the transportation of deer harvested in CWD-affected counties as well as moving the close of the pheasant season daily shooting hours from 2 p.m. to 12 p.m. on stocked public properties.
The majority of voters also favored the idea of reviewing panfish and gamefish regulations on the Mississippi River and reducing the walleye bag limit on the Lake Winnebago system. Participants supported the Wisconsin Conservation Congress' advisory proposals relating to increasing guide license fees and requirements, however, attendees were not in favor of requiring the registration of all non-motorized watercraft.
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 23 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. DNR related proposals are presented to attendees by DNR staff. Following DNR business, the meeting is reconvened as a Conservation Congress meeting and Congress advisory questions are presented.
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.