Advocates for Rib Mountain State Park near Wausau are mobilizing against a new law that expands hunting opportunities in parks across Wisconsin.
Under the new law, all forms of hunting and trapping will be allowed in state parks from October 15th to just before Memorial Day. DNR State Parks Director Dan Schuller says the goal is to open them up to more people and more activities.
"The reason for the law is to open up some more public land for these recreational activities, and we're trying to do that in a common sense fashion without displacing other users," he says.
But current users of a popular park near Wausau will be displaced by more hunting, according to Wes Ebert of Friends of Rib Mountain State Park.
"The thing about Rib Mountain State Park is it's very heavily utilized by a lot of hikers, snowshoers, a lot of day-use type activities throughout the entire park," he says. "They would not go into the park during hunting season for fear of their own safety."
Schuller says the new law will protect hikers and sightseers by making popular areas off limits to hunting.
"Our picnic areas, our overlook, the road, some of our most popular trails and particularly the trail that goes up and down the hill which is extremely popular at this time in the Wausau area," he says. "All of those areas would be closed to these activities."
But Ebert says cross country skiers and snowshoers often go off the beaten path during the winter months when expanded hunting will be allowed.
"There's a lot of winter users," he says. "Great place for showshoeing. I encourage anybody to go out and enjoy the beauty of that area. I just hope that it's safe to do so."
The Friends of Rib Mountain State Park are taking their concerns to the Natural Resources Board. More than a quarter-million people have visited the park so far this year.