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Wisconsin Conservation Congress Spring Hearings

April 8 @ 6:00 PM - April 13 @ 12:00 PM

The Wisconsin Conservation Congress (WCC) and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will once again offer their annual opportunity for the public to provide input on a variety of natural resource-related questions with an in-person opportunity Monday,  April 8, 2024, at 6:00 P.M.  in each county or online starting at noon, Wednesday, April 10 through noon on Saturday, April 13, 2024.

The are several important Environmental Committee questions this year:

  • Item 28. Include educational material on lead in all hunter education and fishing / hunting literature produced by
    the WI DNR (130623)

    • Include educational material on lead in all hunter education and fishing / hunting literature produced by
      the WI DNR (130623)
      Lead ammunition and lead fishing tackle have been shown to pose environmental risks to wildlife and public health, and non-lead alternatives are increasingly available and effective.
      The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has a duty to provide hunters with information on best practices for hunting and conservation. This resolution would require material produced by the Wisconsin
      DNR related to hunting and fishing to include information on non-lead alternatives and the impact that lead ammunition and fishing tackle have on our ecosystems and public health. Currently this information is only
      available online and is not included when purchasing a hunting or fishing license.
      This information should include a description of the environmental and health risks posed by lead ammunition and fishing tackle. It would incorporate information provided by hunter education initiatives such as Sporting
      Lead-Free that offer information on alternatives to lead.
      By providing this information and promoting non-lead alternatives, the Wisconsin DNR can help ensure that hunters and anglers in Wisconsin are informed and equipped to make responsible choices that promote
      conservation and protect our natural resources.
      Question 28. Do you support DNR including information on lead alternatives and the impact that lead ammunition and fishing tackle have on our ecosystems and public health in hunter education courses and hunting
      and fishing regulation materials?
  • Item 29. Phase out lead in hunting with firearms by 2030 (130723)
    • Lead is superior for many things. Lead is also toxic for animals, some more than others. When used for pursuing game, at harvest the lead can end up in entrails and be scavenged by sensitive animals like eagles. It
      can also be fragmented into the meat, and possibly even find its way into food pantries through donations.
      The use of lead shot is already restricted from use in waterfowl hunting and for all game on some properties, and some people already choose not to use lead for reasons including safety in consumption.
      Other options are available, but they’re more expensive especially because they’re considered specialty items.
      Providing a timeline would allow supply chains and retailers to adapt and compete as demand normalizes.
      Question 29. Would you support eliminating lead, statewide, from firearm ammunition used for hunting by 2030? 
  • Item 30. The Eastern Bluebird and other grassland birds are declining at an unprecedented rate in Wisconsin

    • First identified by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in their journal Science (volume 365, issue 6459) dated September 20, 2019, whereby it was verified that there has been a decline of
      2.9 billion birds within North America since 1970. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s publication Living Bird dated Winter 2023 (Volume 42, Issue 1) reports that bird populations are continuing to decline nationwide.
      Notably, the grassland birds were declining the most by 53% over 50 years.
      The Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin (BRAW), established by the Wisconsin Department Natural Resources (DNR) in 1986 to reestablish the population of the Eastern Bluebird and other cavity nesting birds
      (grassland species) in the State that showed significant decline since the mid 1960’s. With the field work of hundreds of nesting monitors (Monitors are people who check on nesting boxes every 7-10 days during the
      nesting season which can last from April into September, but more commonly through July), statewide, BRAW end of season reports show a steady increase of fledged bluebirds to a total of 35,500+ in 2012. Since this
      time, there has been a significant drop in numbers fledged. The totals in 2022 was 13,683 fledged, almost a third less.
      Causation has been documented to be attributed loss of habitat, environmental degradation including the use of pesticides and climate change. The latter cannot be practically addressed at this time, but the others can.
      Though this significant decline can be attributed to more than one issues, most can be resolved with a concentrated effort across the state with an emphasis on education. Using the resources of the DNR
      publications and statewide network, posters at libraries, participation of the appropriate departments within our state university sites, seminars through 4-H and the Farm services, a continued effort to alert people of
      these issue (avoiding just a one-shot deal) may impact and help slow or correct the avian decline in our state, especially grassland birds.
      Question 30. Do you support DNR using their resources and working with the Bluebird Restoration Association of
      Wisconsin to expand nesting box monitors and to help educate the public about the impact of pesticides
      on grassland bird populations?
  • Item 31. “Keep Cats Indoors” education (180223)
    • Since the 1960’s North America’s wild birds have declined by one-third, or nearly 3 billion individuals. One of the greatest causes of unnatural mortality in wild birds is house cats thoughtlessly allowed to roam free
      outdoors. Cats let out-of-doors by people kill an estimated billion birds a year in the United States. A single house cat turned loose outside – even if declawed or belled – can kill several dozen wild birds in a year. A
      current practice called TNR (Trap-Neuter-Release) involves releasing trapped cats back into the wild after neutering them. The practice, while reducing cats’ ability to breed does nothing to reduce the significant
      predatory pressure on birds. Education about the impact of free-roaming cats could change the behaviors of pet owners and reduce bird mortality.
      Question 31. Do you support the DNR and other conservation groups creating an awareness campaign focused on the adverse impact outdoor cats have on Wisconsin’s wild bird populations?

  • Item 32. Wake boat ballast systems violate current Wisconsin regulations (640523) (requires legislation)
    • It has been known since the 1980’s that ballast water containing aquatic invasive species was discharged into the St. Lawrence Seaway from European ships. From there the invasives made their way into our Great Lakes and now into Wisconsin’s inland lakes. Current regulations state that all boat ballast systems must be completely emptied prior to being removed from the boat landing. Wake boat ballast systems are not
      designed to be completely emptied. Many of the boat ballast systems are inaccessible and totally enclosed.
      This makes the systems impossible to inspect and unable to dry because they are enclosed.
      It is evident that manufacturers are aware that ballast systems don’t drain completely. Wake boat owners’ manuals say to add several gallons of antifreeze to the ballast system in winter to avoid problems from
      residual water freezing. A University of Wisconsin study has shown that wake boat ballast systems contain on average 8 gallons of residual lake water after “being emptied”. In some boats as much as 20 gallons remained.
      The water tested contained zooplankton and, in some cases, it was still alive. When these boats are moved from lake to lake, they transfer the ballast water and its contents from one lake to another lake.
      Wake boat ballast systems cannot be completely emptied. Therefore, they can transfer aquatic invasive species such as zebra mussels, spiny water fleas and fish diseases from one lake to another. Wake boats could
      be used on lakes and rivers for activities such as water skiing, tubing and pleasure cruising but use of the ballast system feature should be prohibited.
      Question 32. Would you support the WCC and legislature creating a new statute that prohibits the use of wake boat
      ballast systems on Wisconsin’s lakes and rivers?

  • Item 33. Protective limitations on PFAS compounds (660223)
    • Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of over 4,000 “forever chemicals.” PFAS substances continually accumulate in the human body in never decreasing amounts. 98% of Americans have measurable
      levels of PFAS in their blood.
      According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), certain PFAS pose risks to human health, including developmental problems in fetuses and infants, certain types of cancer, reduced antibody response,
      decreased immune response to vaccinations, and kidney disease.
      People accumulate PFAs from a wide variety of consumer products, water repellants, non-stick pans, stain resistant materials, cosmetics, fire-fighting foams, fast food wrappers and paper production and biosolids or
      wastewater sludge applied to farm fields as a substitute for fertilizer.
      Eating fish and game can also be a major contributor to PFAS accumulation in our bodies. PFAS contaminate fish across the U.S., with higher levels in the Great Lakes. In fact, A group of scientists, the Environmental
      Working Group, found the median amounts of PFAS in freshwater fish were an astounding 280 times greater than PFAS detected in some commercially caught and sold fish. In Michigan, smelt consumption from Lake
      Superior has been restricted to a suggested 8 oz portion per month for adults.
      Question 33. Should the Legislature, the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Health develop and enact protective limitations on PFAS compounds for acute and chronic toxicity in surface water, wildlife
      health, groundwater, fish consumption, and human health?

The questionnaire will be available online beginning April 10, 2024 at noon and remain open through April 13, 2024 at noon, so you can make your voice heard even from home.

For more info, visit dnr.wi.gov/About/WCC/springhearing.html


April 8 @ 6:00 PM
April 13 @ 12:00 PM