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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Earn-A-Buck deer hunting law repealed

Hunters in the state would no longer have to shoot an antler-less deer before killing a buck, a policy enforced by the Department of Natural Resources, under a bill recently passed in the Assembly.
On Tuesday, the Assembly voted in favor of a bill which would repeal the Earn-A-Buck Bill, which is now headed to Gov. Scott Walker for final approval. The program is a Wisconsin law that requires deer hunters in specified areas first kill an antler-less deer before they can aim for bucks.
Rep. Kelda Roys, D-Madison, said the law was “inconvenient” for trophy hunters who only desired the big antlered bucks.
She also said the law also has had many positive effects, including helping DNR scientists monitor the deer population in Wisconsin to make sure it remains stable.
“Deer hunting is a strong tradition in the state and an important economic driver. Deer hunting in Wisconsin creates more than $1 billion of economic activity annually and supports 16,000 jobs,” Kurt Thiede, an administrator for the Division of Lands in the Department of Natural Resources, said in testimony before the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources.
The DNR estimates the size of the state’s deer population by analyzing the data from the previous year’s deer hunting reports, Thiede said.
Hunters had previously opposed the Earn-a-Buck program, saying it caused disruption to the archery season and required hunters to pass on a trophy buck if the hunter had not had the option to shoot a doe first, he said.
Roys strongly disagreed with the Legislature’s decision to end the Earn-A-Buck program. According to Roys, it is not up to the Legislature to make decisions regarding natural resources, and these decisions should be left up to DNR professionals.
While the bill was approved with a 64-33 vote, she maintained the bill’s supporters represented a radical group of state hunters.
“The Republicans were the ones pushing for this legislation, in a response to a very small, vocal group of extreme hunters who hated the program and wanted to see it rescind,” Roys said.
Jake Lambert, a UW student and deer hunter for seven years, said he is very excited about the termination of the program.
“Now that the program is over, the likeliness we will get a buck will increase, and it will make hunting easier and more fun,” Lambert said.
By Matt Huppert

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