Citizens can weigh in Monday on outdoors issues

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) – Residents in all 72 Wisconsin counties will get a chance to weigh in Monday on issues ranging from whether to allow the hunting of tundra swans to whether hunters should be allowed to venture onto private land to retrieve a hunting dog.

The annual meetings of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, a group that advises the state Department of Natural Resources and the Natural Resources Board on policy changes, will be held Monday at 7 p.m. Locations are listed here.

Attendees will be given a questionnaire seeking their opinions on a number of proposals and issues, and they will elect county delegates.

The proposal involving hunting tundra swans is shaping up to be one of the more controversial issues.

The Madison Audubon Society Board and other conservation groups worry that hunters will mistakenly shoot once-endangered trumpeter swans instead of tundra swans. They also say a hunt would disrupt the spring bird-watching season, The Capital Times reported.

Marc Schultz, the chairman of WCC La Crosse County, didn’t offer an opinion except to say tundra swans might not be easy to hunt because they tend to congregate in areas closed to hunting.

“They’re a very intelligent bird,” Schultz told the La Crosse Tribune.

Another proposal that could generate controversy is one that would allow hunters to retrieve hound dogs on private property without landowner permission. Opponents worry that hunters will be able to trample other people’s property rights.

The questionnaire will also gauge support for expanding trout-fishing season and removing protection on white and albino deer.

Attendees will also be asked for their thoughts on consolidating turkey, pheasant, duck, trout and salmon stamps into one stamp.

Hunters are required to purchase the stamps in addition to regular licenses to hunt legally. The revenue helps pay for DNR habitat management and restoration, species management, research and equipment

While the proposed stamp process may seem simpler, Schultz said it has raised concerns about whether revenues for each of the hunts would be fairly divided.

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