MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources recommended last week that a hunting bill be scaled back after lawmakers and state agencies were inundated with nearly 2,000 angry emails and letters opposing its breadth.
The DNR proposed scaling back the Sporting Heritage Bill, which would open nearly all Wisconsin parks and trails to hunting, to exempt about one-third of that area, according to The Post-Crescent of Appleton. The agency on Friday also proposed additional safety measures, such as a gun ban at High Cliff State Park on Lake Winnebago.
The newspaper obtained the more than 2,500 emails and letters sent to lawmakers, the DNR and the Natural Resources Board. Of the 2,000 or so comments received by the Natural Resources Board, 96 percent were opposed to at least some aspects of the law.
"This is absolute insanity and you must reconsider!" said Joan Sample, of Madison. "Someone is going to get hurt or killed, and it will be on the DNR's and State's shoulders."
One resident wrote to state Rep. Jim Steineke, a Kaukauna Republican who helped pass the law.
"Are you planning on doing any camping in state parks once the gun fire starts?" asked Rosemary Salzman of Wild Rose, Wis.
One dog owner threatened legal action if his dog left a trail to relieve itself and stepped into trap.
The Natural Resources Board is scheduled to review the DNR's proposal Tuesday in Madison. Board member Jane Wiley said the public response was unprecedented.
"Getting 2,000 comments sends an incredibly strong signal," Wiley said. "We've never gotten this many emails about an email, and it's due to the transparency of this process."
But state Rep. Garey Bies, a Republican from Sister Bay who voted in favor of the bill, cautioned against overreacting to the comments, noting that 2,000 "sounds like a big number, but out of 4.5 million, that isn't a good representation of what people are feeling," he said.
Laurie Ross, a liaison for the Natural Resources Board, said most of the people who commented were opposed only to the portions of the law that allow hunting in state parks. She said many people wrote about how much they enjoy the peace and tranquility in the parks and that they would stop going if they'd have to hear gunfire.
The Sporting Heritage Bill goes into effect Jan. 1.