Closer look at crossbows
Issue will be among advisory questions
By Paul A. Smith
of the Journal Sentinel
Jan. 8, 2011 |(2) Comments
Should crossbows be legal for all hunters during the Wisconsin archery deer season?
The question was advanced Friday by the Executive Council of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress. As such, it will appear as an advisory question on the statewide Spring Hearings ballot in April.
The crossbow issue and dozens others were evaluated by the council as it determined which would make the questionnaire on the congress' portion of the Department of Natural Resources Spring Fish and Game Rules Hearings and Annual Wisconsin Conservation Congress Meetings.
The meetings will be held April 11 in each county.
The council advanced 37 questions, including one that would allow rifles for deer hunting statewide and another that would give preference to Wisconsin residents when issuing leftover spring turkey permits.
The crossbow question arguably will draw the strongest interest. Although 17 states allow crossbows for all archery deer hunters, Wisconsin allows them only for hunters over the age of 65 and those with disabilities.
Crossbow use increasingly has been allowed across the nation. In the last two years, eight states, including traditional whitetail hunting states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Texas, have changed regulations to allow crossbows during the archery deer seasons.
"As a congress, we're supposed to represent all the people," said council member Mark Noll. "And we can't be afraid to ask a question to find out how they feel."
The Wisconsin Bowhunters Association and Wisconsin Traditional Archers have opposed crossbows.
Wright Allen, president of the Wisconsin Bowhunters Association and member of the congress' Big Game Committee, said crossbows have not been supported by the hunting public in Wisconsin.
"We're not opposed to crossbows, but we are opposed to a change that would make the archery season primarily a crossbow season," Allen said. "We believe crossbows should be controlled and regulated separately."
Allen also objected to the way the crossbow resolution was introduced - not by a citizen at last year's Spring Hearings, but by a Big Game Committee member in December.
After considerable debate, congress chairman Ed Harvey said he was comfortable with the way the resolution was introduced.
The council then approved the question on a voice vote.
The question will help assess public support of crossbows. But it will take action by the legislature to make crossbows legal in the archery season, said DNR attorney Tim Andryk.