About two-thirds of the acreage in the Wisconsin state park and trail system would be open to hunting and trapping from Oct. 15 to late May, according to a proposal released Friday by the Department of Natural Resources.
The plan, which has attracted strong opposition, is the DNR’s latest as it prepares to implement Act 168.
The legislation significantly expands hunting and trapping opportunities in state park and trail properties. It was approved this year and goes into effect Jan. 1.
Although some state parks have been open for years to specific deer and turkey hunts, Act 168 directs the DNR to open all properties in the system to hunting and trapping unless deemed unsafe to humans or a threat to rare plants or wildlife.
The Natural Resources Board will review the DNR’s plan Tuesday in Madison.
According to the plan released Friday, the DNR would:
• Establish a general hunting and trapping season from Oct. 15 to the Thursday before Memorial Day on state park, state trail and Ice Age and North Country Scenic trail properties.
• Open 62,759 acres (64%) of state park and trail land to hunting and trapping.
When broken out by type of property, 74% of state park, 19% of state trail and 64% of Ice Age and North Country trail acreage would be open to hunting and trapping.
Public comments have run overwhelmingly against the DNR’s proposal to implement Act 168.
Of the 2,033 public comments received by letter, email, phone and in person, 1,949 opposed the plan, according to the agency.
The Natural Resources Board held five listening sessions this fall to help guide implementation of Act 168.
After the listening sessions, the DNR modified the use maps of 20 state parks and 14 trails, resulting in 2,511 additional acres being closed to hunting and trapping.
Among the proposed changes, certain heavily used trails at Blue Mound, Council Grounds, Hartman Creek and Newport state parks would be closed to hunting and trapping.
And the hunting and trapping season would not open until Nov. 15 at Hartman Creek and Lake Wissota state parks because of heavy late-season use by equestrians.
The other properties with partial Nov. 15 openings would be Council Grounds, High Cliff, Peninsula and Wildcat Mountain state parks, and the Elroy-Sparta State Trail.
But the changes are unlikely to satisfy opponents to the plan.
The Natural Resources Board will take testimony and written comments on this issue at the Tuesday meeting.
The board has extended the deadline to register to testify to 4 p.m. Monday.
The meeting will be in Room G09 of the State Natural Resources Building (GEF 2), 101 S. Webster St., Madison. The meeting begins at 1 p.m.; the Act 168 implementation plan is the third item on the agenda.