Walker signs bill that eliminates minimum hunting age

Gov Scott Walker (Photo courtesy Walker campaign)

MADISON (WLUK/AP) -- Children of any age will now be allowed to hunt with guns under a bill signed by Gov. Scott Walker.

In the past, a Wisconsin resident had to be at least 12 years old to buy a hunting license or hunt with a gun unless they're participating in a mentored hunt. Children as young as 10 can hunt through that program.

The bill will allow people of any age to participate in a mentored hunt. The bill also will allow hunters and mentors to have more than one weapon between them.

Thirty-four states have no minimum hunting age, according to the Wisconsin Hunters' Rights Coalition.

The Senate passed the bill 21-12 on Tuesday. The Assembly passed the bill last week.

Walker signed the bill Saturday.

He also signed three other bills into law which include:

Assembly Bill 528 – This bill restores a prohibition (from 2015 Act 100) revoked by 2017 Act 59, which eliminated deer carcass tags from being required under law and thereby re-legalized the harvest of antlerless deer by adults using a youth antlerless deer hunting license under group hunting circumstances.

This bill re-establishes the 2015 Act 100 prohibition for adults from harvesting antlerless deer using a youth antlerless carcass tag under group hunting allowances.

Senate Bill 225 – This bill extends the fall turkey, gray (Hungarian) partridge, and pheasant hunting and trapping seasons.

These seasons currently close on December 31. The bill sets them as open through the Sunday nearest January 6 (including the New Year’s holiday weekend) and would statutorily prohibit variation.

The bill changes the archer deer season. The season currently closes Sunday nearest January 6 (including the New Year's holiday weekend) except for six metro areas (Green Bay, Hudson, La Crosse, Madison, Milwaukee, and Superior). The metro areas are currently open through January 31.

The bill sets the archer deer season as open through the Sunday nearest January 6 for metro areas in addition to all other areas and would statutorily prohibit variation.

The bill, as amended, becomes effective February 1, 2018, or the day after publication of the bill, whichever is later.

It provides that if DNR determines, based on harvest registration data for an animal in a specific area of the state, that it is likely that more than the quota set for that animal for the open season will be taken in that area, DNR may close the season for that animal in that area, notwithstanding the uniform season end date created in the bill.

The bill also authorizes DNR to change the end date for an open season for any of the animals listed in the bill in specific areas of the state if DNR determines it is necessary to promote the growth or control the population of that animal in that area, notwithstanding the uniform season end date created in the bill.

Finally, the bill authorizes metro bow/crossbow hunting from the Monday closest to January 6th through January 31st, as was strongly supported by the most recent Wisconsin Conservation Congress.

Assembly Bill 323 - This bill defines woodchucks as “game animals" and “fur-bearing animals."

As a result, a person may hunt woodchucks under the authority of a small game hunting license and trap woodchucks under a trapping license.

Also under this bill as amended, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is required to establish a year-round open season for woodchucks.

DNR may not impose a bag or possession limit for this season.

This bill also, as amended, adds woodchucks to the list of species (beaver, rabbit, raccoons, and squirrels) that a landowner or occupant, and any member of his or her family, or an individual who has the landowner’s or occupant’s consent may take at any time by means of live trapping with box traps in areas where the discharge of a firearm is illegal.

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