Bill expanding crossbow hunting moving forward
- Article by: SCOTT BAUER
- Associated Press
- August 21, 2013 - 3:20 PM
MADISON, Wis. — An open crossbow hunting season would be created to run concurrently with the archery deer season in Wisconsin under a bill moving through the state Legislature.
The measure easily cleared the Assembly on a unanimous 95-0 vote in June. But it ran into problems in the Senate, where a committee didn't meet until Wednesday to take up a compromise that will require another Assembly vote.
The reworked version of the bill won broad support from traditional bow hunters and those who want to use crossbows. The Senate's Natural Resources Committee was scheduled to vote on passing the bill on Thursday, making it available for the Legislature to take it up in September.
The latest version of the proposal would create a two year pilot program for an open crossbow hunting season starting in 2014 so the state Department of Natural Resources could study the impact on the deer herd and make any necessary changes.
After that 2-year period the crossbow hunting season would remain in law unless the Legislature voted to do away with it. The DNR would be able to make changes to the hunting season through its rule-making process.
Currently, crossbow hunting is allowed only for those over age 65 and those with physical disabilities. Last year the state Department of Natural Resources received 4,100 applications to get a disabled permit for crossbow hunting.
The bill would allow hunters of all legal ages and of all physical abilities to use crossbows to hunt deer and other smaller animals including rabbits and coyotes. The crossbow season would be the same as the archery deer season, which runs from mid-September until the end of November or beginning of December, depending on the year.
Supporters argued Wednesday that allowing open crossbow hunting would expand opportunities and interest in hunting, remove hurdles faced by disabled people to get the required physical examination to be permitted, and provide an economic boost to the hunting industry.
"It is in the best interest of everybody that we got this done," said Rep. Chris Danou, D-Trempealeau.
But the idea created a rift among some in the hunting community. Some bow-and-arrow hunters worried that allowing a crossbow, which operates more like a rifle with the hunter pulling a trigger to release the arrow, would taint the more traditional archery hunting.
Sen. Mark Miller, D-Madison, said he was concerned that the bow-hunting season, which he called a "magical time of the year," could be harmed if it's opened to crossbow hunting.
Chris Dymale, representing the Wisconsin Crossbow Federation, reacted to Miller's comments, saying the bill would expand hunting opportunities and remove barriers faced by disabled people who have to spend money on physical examinations to prove they qualify for a permit.
"I think everybody should be able to enjoy that magical time of bow season," he said.
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