Deer hunters, be smart with feral pigs, firewood, firearms
Deer hunters, if you see a wild pig during Wisconsin's gun-deer season and have a good opportunity, shoot it. But, if you have the opportunity to transport firewood while heading home or from your hunting spot, don't do it.
Those are two key messages state officials want to convey to deer hunters as they don blaze orange to open the gun season Saturday.
Wild pigs have posed problems in Wisconsin for more than a decade. Since 1997, they've been spotted in at least 51 counties. Their rooting is destructive, and they can carry diseases that can affect humans and domestic pigs. People with any type of hunting license can kill wild pigs year-round except for the Friday before the start of the nine-day gun deer season. Landowners can shoot wild pigs on their property without licenses. Department of Natural Resources officials want hunters to file reports of sightings at dnr.wi.gov. They also want anyone who kills a wild pig to contact the agency so biologists can take tissue samples for disease testing.
As far as firewood, officials urge you to buy firewood where you'll burn it. Firewood can carry invasive pests, including emerald ash borer and gypsy moth.
These are two of the most destructive pests in North America, says Christopher Deegan, chief of the Plant Protection Section of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. “They could destroy the very forests that deer rely on for food and shelter. You don't want to be the one who brings them into the north woods.”
It is not only a bad idea to move firewood, it's often illegal. Hardwood firewood cannot be carried from counties quarantined for gypsy moth or the ash borer to nonquarantined areas. The state Department of Natural Resources prohibits taking firewood onto state lands from more than 25 miles away. The U.S. Forest Service prohibits taking firewood into the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest from more than 25 miles away.
The exception to these prohibitions is firewood with state labels certifying that it has been treated to destroy pests. A list of certified firewood dealers is available online. Certified firewood is often available at convenience stores and other places selling firewood.
Fifty-three Wisconsin counties are quarantined for gypsy moth, emerald ash borer, or both. A map showing the quarantined counties is available online. You can help most by taking these three steps:
1. Gather or buy your firewood at your destination.
2. Use all the firewood you obtain and don't take any home with you.
3. Consider buying state-certified firewood.
For their own safety, hunters also should follow the rules of TAB-K, especially given that rifles now can be used for deer hunting statewide except where municipalities have passed local ordinances to ban them. You don't know those safety rules?
T stands for treat every firearm as if it's loaded.
A means always point your rifle in a safe direction.
B stands for be certain of your target and what's beyond it.
K means keep your finger outside the trigger guard until you're ready to shoot.
Follow the rules of TAB-K, and you'll greatly improve your chances of returning home safe and sound.