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A hunting they will go

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Greg Peck
March 28, 2013

A story in todayís Gazette reports that the state announced it wonít implement an elk hunt this year because the herd is still small and fragile.

That doesn't mean an elk hunt isn't in our state's future. Elk vanished from Wisconsin in the 1800s due to hunting and vanishing habitat. They were reintroduced in 1995 when 25 came from Michigan and were released in Ashland County. The herd is expected to be about 175 this spring. Thatís below the 200 needed to trigger a hunting season, according to state law.

Iím sure many wildlife lovers are up in arms about that. They didnít like it years ago when the state enacted a mourning dove hunt. They didnít like last yearís wolf hunting and trapping season (maybe those offended are part of the reason why state revenue from license plates depicting the wolf is shrinking). They helped thwart a bid to start an open season on sandhill cranes (farmers can tell you all about the damage these birds can cause to crop sprouts). They didnít appreciate Ted Peckís (no relation to me) column in recent weeks about coyote hunting. And they didnít like the news we reported last week about a possible woodchuck season.

Rep. Andre Jacque, R-De Pere, is working on a bill that would remove woodchucksóalso known as groundhogsófrom Wisconsinís protected species list. The legislation would allow people to kill an unlimited number during an almost year-round season. Jacque said woodchucks donít serve protected status because theyíre abundant and a nuisance.

I grew up around uncles who enjoyed hunting. I developed a passion for pheasant hunting as a teenager, but I never practiced shooting and so I wasnít a very good shot. I never hunted deer. I havenít hunted in about 30 years and today would rather see a beautiful ringneck pheasant alive in the wild than dead in my hand.

Yet I donít have anything against those who hunt and have friends and relatives who do. Iím indifferent toward this woodchuck proposal. These are beaver-like rodents that devour lots of plants and can cause much property and even road damage from burrowing.

I got the below cartoon from Wisconsin artist Phil Hands yesterday. We didn't use it in print because some of those seasons on his signs are just proposed hunts, not actual ones. Do you think Wisconsin already offers open seasons on too many birds and animals?

Image

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook



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