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Sturgeon, wolves on DNR agenda

Posted at 3:30 p.m. on May 21, 2021

The Brillion News

MADISON – The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board will meet virtually for the May board meeting to consider several proposed rules, hearings, management and master plans, land items and donations.

The Board also will receive an information update on Chronic Wasting Disease.

The meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 26.

Although the public will not be allowed to attend the meeting in person due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the public can watch the May board meeting on the Wisconsin DNR YouTube channel:

Of significant interest locally is the staff request for approval of the new state Sturgeon Management Plan.

The state has had a Lake Sturgeon Management plan that was written in the year 2000, but a lot of factors have changed since then.

The proposed updated plan would restore populations that have diminished.

The plan calls for six initiatives:

  • Populations will be assessed and monitored. Some of the state’s sturgeon populations have not been adequately studied, and those deficiencies will be identified and addresses.

  • Habitat will be protected, restored and enhanced. Habitat affects sturgeon in all stage of their lives, including spawning and growing. Degraded habitats will be restored.

  • Propagation and reintroduction opportunities will be carried out. This will build up sturgeon populations where they used to exist but have been diminished.

  • Harvest, regulations and enforcement will be targeted because the fish is very vulnerable to over-harvesting, especially beyond Winnebago System. The DNR manages the Winnebago sturgeon well, but not other sturgeon populations.

  • Public outreach needs to increase, by better communication from the DNR and making mor use of volunteers such as the Sturgeon Guard Program and Adopt-A-Sturgeon.

  • The health of the sturgeon population must be addressed because many sturgeon taken are consumer. Contaminants are a threat to both the fish and people who eat them.

Gray wolf

Another hot topic will be the wolf hunting and trapping rules and season. The board is expected to approve an emergency order that would revise the gray wolf harvest regulations “in consideration of feedback received.”

The conservation group Wisconsin Green Fire published a scathing report critical of the DNR’s management of the February 2021 wolf hunt (see the story in the May 6 print edition of The Brillion News.)

In a cover sheet to the NR Board, Wildlife Policy Specialist Scott Karel said the DNR plans to explore “establishing consistent shooting hours for wolf hunting, shortening the registration window” [for reporting a kill] and establishing tags that are zone specific.

Night hunting for wolves may also be banned.

The memo to the NR Board also notes that the federal government can jump back in and place the wolf back on the Endangered Species List: ”If it appears, at any time, that the gray wolf cannot sustain itself with the protections of the Endangered Species Act, the [U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service] and initiate the listing process, including emergency listing” and end wolf hunting and trapping in Wisconsin.

Other concerns

The Board will also consider rules related to implementing control technology to limit volatile organic compound emissions from various metal and plastic parts coatings and industrial adhesives; adopted a 2021-2023 elk management plan; proposed rules affecting the lake trout season and harvest in Lake Michigan; and proposed rules changes related to reorganizing commercial fishing and wholesale fish dealer regulations.

The Natural Resources Board is also expected to order a preliminary public hearing and comment period for new drinking water maximum contaminant levels for PFAS chemicals.

~ Ed Byrne/BN from source documents.ted at 5:30 p.m. on May 21, 2021


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