State park hunting opponents, supporters have their sayHorseback riders are among those upset with a proposal to allow more hunting and trapping in Wisconsin's state parks.
By: By Rich Kremer, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Horseback riders are among those upset with a proposal to allow more hunting and trapping in Wisconsin's state parks. They were among those at a listening session in Eau Claire last night.
Limited deer hunting has been allowed in some state parks before but the Sporting Heritage Act of 2012 opens state parks to hunting for most of the year. The Natural Resources Board is charged with creating rules for hunting in state parks and members are holding listening sessions across the state. In Eau Claire the majority of comments came from horseback trail riders. Cheryl Day of Westby says hunters could scare horses and put riders at risk.
“Gunfire does spook horses even at a distance," she said. "Horses are flight animals and they do run from danger, therefore endangering the riders who could easily be injured. Riders range from the very young to the very old and no one wants to see anyone get hurt.”
William Korb says he lives within walking distance of Lake Wissota State Park in Chippewa Falls. He says his daughters often walk to the park to play but now he worries for their safety.
“There’s a playground in the park," he said. "In order to get to the playground you have to walk through areas that there will be people with firearms and that just doesn’t seem safe to me.”
Dean Gullihan of Chippewa Falls spoke on behalf of trappers. He says there is very little risk to the public or their dogs if leashes are used and says parks should be open for all types of recreation.
The NRB is proposing closing off heavily used parts of state parks and banning hunting 100 yards from on both sides of popular trails. Trapping would be banned 200 yards from those trails. More listening sessions will be held in Merrill, Appleton and West Allis. The board could make a decision on rules at their December meeting.