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Spring Hearings online April 13; resolutions should be submitted now

In light of COVID-19, the Wisconsin Conservation Congress (WCC) and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are closely following guidelines from the Department of Health Services (DHS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization (WHO).

They are adhering to guidance from DHS that recommends canceling or postponing gatherings of 10 people or more to help protect Wisconsinites from the spread of COVID-19, particularly those who are most vulnerable to infection and severe disease.

As such, the in-person portion of the 72 public meetings known as the Spring Hearings that were to be held in each county on April 13 are canceled. The public will continue to have the opportunity to provide input on the natural resources advisory questions from the DNR, Natural Resources Board (NRB), and WCC through the online input option.

The online input option will be provided through a link that will be posted on the Spring Hearing web page (https:// html) and will go live at 7 p.m. on April 13. The online version will remain open for three days (72 hours). Results will be posted as soon as they are available.

Each year, citizens can recommend changes to natural resource issues through the submittal of citizen resolutions.

Resolutions can either be emailed to or typed hardcopies can be mailed to: Kari Lee-Zimmermann, Conservation Congress Liaison, P.O. Box 7921 WCC/4, Madison WI 53707-7921. All citizen resolutions must be received by close of business on April 6. Resolutions must also meet the requirements identified on the Spring Hearing webpage.

Those who complete the online input form (April 13-16) will be able to see the resolutions that were submitted by individuals indicating they reside in that county.

“This is an unprecedented time in history and I’m glad that we have the online option so that we can continue to gather input on these important natural resource questions,” said Dr. Fredrick Prehn, chair of the Natural Resources Board. “The NRB applauds the Conservation Congress’ decision to utilize the online option only this year and do its part to minimize the effects of this virus on our citizens. I hope that everyone who has an interest in the issues being discussed will utilize the online option to provide their input.”

Information about the Spring Hearing questions can be found on the DNR website (search keywords “Spring Hearings”). The link will go live until 7 p.m. on April 13.

Among some of the highlight items on this year’s agenda, which consists of advisory questions only, include:

_ A series of questions from the DNR’s wildlife department regarding a potential requirement to use non-toxic ammunition on state owned or managed lands.

_ A series of questions presented by the Natural Resources Board asking for input on potential changes to the deer hunting season structure, including adding 10 days to the nine-day gun season, eliminating the holiday antlerless hunt and limiting the early portion of the crossbow season to Oct. 1-31.

_ An advisory question from the Natural Resources Board gauging support on establishing a two- to three-week spring bearing hunting season.

_ Questions from the Conservation Congress gauging support for the return of Earn-A-Buck as a deer management tool in overpopulated areas, a 16day gun deer season, starting the spring turkey season a week earlier, allowing catch and release fishing for muskellunge in the Northern Zone between the first Saturday and May and the Saturday nearest Memorial Day and increasing non-resident license fees for bear and deer hunting.

“The recent implementation of online voting allows the WCC and its delegates the opportunity to vote without having to appear in person,” said Larry Bonde, chair of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress. “Following the guidelines from state and federal agencies, members will still have the opportunity to let their voices be heard when it comes to conservation issues. We understand the value of the in-person meeting for discussion and sharing of ideas, but our top priority is the health and safety of our citizens. We look forward to resuming the in-person meetings next year.”

County residents have the option to run for a seat on the Conservation Congress and to elect delegates from their county to represent their county views regarding natural resources on the Conservation Congress. Two of the five WCC seats in each county are up for election.

“As far as the delegate elections go, we will be extending the terms of each of the WCC delegates by one year,” Bonde said. “If a current delegate no longer wishes to serve, the seat will become vacant and the county chair can appoint someone to fill the remainder of the term.”