by Benjamin Yount


It’s now the Wisconsin Assembly’s turn to consider what to do with the staggering 55,000 regulations for hunting and trapping in the state.

The Assembly’s Committee on Sporting Heritage on Wednesday held a hearing on AB 676, which would require the state’s Department of Natural Resources toss three regulations for every new rule it puts into place.

“For decades, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has been putting-up burdensome and unnecessary regulations that get in the way of enjoying the great outdoors,” Rep. Calvin Callahan, R-Tomahawk, told lawmakers. “As Wisconsinites we understand the need to conserve our resources, however over-regulation is not the way to do it.”

Callahan wrote the proposal. He says the DNR should be making it easier for people to get outside and hunt, fish, or trap.

“The DNR has more than 55,000 regulations, which is more than any other state agency,” Callahan explained. “By comparison, of the next three state agencies with the most regulatory restrictions, the Department of Health Services has 17,000. The Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection has 15,000 and the Department of Safety and Professional Services also has 15,000.”

But Rep. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit, pressed Callahan on whether requiring DNR to remove three rules for every new rule will stop other reforms that lawmakers agree to.

“Doesn’t this just lead to more red tape?” Spreitzer asked.

A Wisconsin Senate committee has already approved the plan.

Rep. Shae Sortwell, R-Two Rivers, said he wants a few more answers before he’s ready to send the plan for a vote in the full Assembly.

“If the DNR is continuing to place burden upon burden on the hunters of Wisconsin, then I think your bill has more merit,” Sortwell said Wednesday. “If the DNR has stagnated at [55,000 regulations] and that’s what it appears that we need in order to manage everything properly for hunters and sportsmen in Wisconsin, then maybe the bill has less merit.”

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Benjamin Yount is a contributor to The Center Square.