Due to provisions in Wisconsin’s 2017-’19 state budget bill, hunters are no longer required to tag deer or turkeys they have killed. The budget and attached provisions were signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Scott Walker and took immediate effect.
“They have to have a license in order to hunt deer and turkey for the zones or units that they’re hunting, and have to carry that with them, but they no longer have to validate and attach a carcass tag,” DNR Chief Warden Todd Schaller said.
In addition, waterfowlers are no longer required to register any Canada geese they take.
The changes to the decades-old method of proving harvests are legal comes as a result of additions to the original bill’s language. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the no-tag provisions were introduced by the Joint Finance Committee at the request of Rep. Joel Kleefisch. The 2017-’18 hunting season’s regulations had already been published for the year, leading to a “scramble” to update the state’s game laws.
“Hundreds of thousands of copies of the 2017 Wisconsin Deer Hunting Regulations pamphlet were printed and distributed in recent months without the new rules,” Paul Smith wrote. “In fact, the first item listed in the pamphlet describes the proper method of validating a paper carcass tag.”
The regulation changes have caused concern among hunters and wildlife officials as to how the state will properly determine harvest data or protect against poaching.
“It opens the door for a lot of iffy situations, put it that way,” David Thoe of Waupaca told ABC 2.
While the tags are no longer required, hunters are reminded that there are still laws in place. Hunters must register their kills either online or over the phone by 5 p.m. the day after they harvest them. Licenses can be presented in one of four ways: a DNR Conservation Card, a Go Wild validated driver’s license, a Go Wild digital file, or the traditional paper copy.
“The requirement to register deer and turkeys is still there,” Schaller said. “Timelines are the same, and that’s a key piece for hunters to do is make sure they register their harvest so we have the tools here at the Department of Natural Resources in the Wildlife Management program to properly and responsibly manage our deer and turkey populations across the state.”