The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Apostle Islands hunting bill passes legislature


January 26, 2018


MADISON, Wis. — A bill to continue the muzzleloader deer hunt on the Apostle Islands passed the Wisconsin legislature Tuesday.

The state Senate passed the bi-partisan bill, which had originated in the state Assembly, sending the legislation to Gov. Scott Walker’s desk.

If signed into law, Assembly Bill 626 would eliminate a potential unintended consequence of Wisconsin Act 50 — which was passed in 2011. That law banned most gun-deer seasons prior to the Saturday before Thanksgiving, with the exception of the youth hunt, disabled hunters deer hunt and learn-to-hunt programs, which could potentially threaten the Apostle Islands hunt, according to State Rep. Beth Meyers, D-Bayfield.

“The Apostle Islands muzzleloader hunt provides an unparalleled hunting experience and has strong public support. I was proud to work with my colleagues to provide a solution to protect this unique Wisconsin tradition,” Meyers said in a news release Tuesday.

Meyers, one of the author’s of the proposed legislation, said the muzzleloader season on the islands has always taken place in October to increase the likelihood of safe boat travel.

“The reason this deer hunt historically has occurred in October is because boat travel in the Apostles can be treacherous any month of the year, but especially in November,” Meyers said in Tuesday’s news release. “(The current legislation) responds to this unique situation and re-authorizes an open season for hunting deer with muzzleloading firearms within the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.”

While reauthorizing the October hunt would create a permanent solution to the potential conflict in Act 50, the hunt itself has never actually been canceled. Keeping the hunt going since 2011 has required “extra effort on an annual basis by both Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and National Park Service staff,” Christian Plata, who works in Meyers’ office, told the Daily Globe.

The muzzleloader season in the Apostles began in 1985.

While the staff at Walker’s office told the Daily Globe he’d review the bill once it reached his desk, it passed the legislature with little controversy and support from both parties — including from Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Minocqua, who was the lead author in the Senate.


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