(WI) Measure is designed to bring out senior, disabled hunters


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Drizzt
April 27, 2003, 08:17 PM
Measure is designed to bring out senior, disabled hunters

Many would be able to use ATVs to hunt
By John Dipko
Press-Gazette Madison bureau jdipko@greenbaypressgazette.com

MADISON — An Assembly bill would make it easier for senior citizens and people with disabilities to hunt on Wisconsin-owned property, but could open the lands to the stress of all-terrain vehicles.

The legislation by Rep. Mark Pettis, R-Hertel, would allow anyone who is at least 65 years old or who obtains a disabled hunting permit from the state Department of Natural Resources to ride ATVs to and from hunting areas on any land, including any roadway, located on DNR property.

Hunters can already ride the machines on private lands with the owner’s blessing, but DNR rules generally prohibit the use of motorized vehicles on state-owned property such as forests and woods unless use of the vehicle is OK’d by posted notice.

Greater access would appeal to many hunters with mobility-restricting disabilities, said Bob Mayer of Bellevue, a disabled hunter who coordinates special events for Challenge the Outdoors Inc. of Black Creek.

“I’d like to see it, but I understand why owners wouldn’t want four-wheelers on their land,” Mayer said. “I can see where it could be misused and abused.”

The bill appears amid debate over a growing popularity of ATV use in Wisconsin and worries that the vehicles pose safety hazards and send dirt flying.

Pettis’ bill as introduced does not specify type of hunting, but the scope might narrow to deer hunting, the lawmaker said.

The bill also is designed to bring out more elderly hunters who otherwise would stay home, Pettis said.

Last year, 3,956 gun-deer hunters licensed in Wisconsin were 60 years old, DNR figures show.

The number dropped sharply to 2,738 at age 65 and 2,170 at age 70. Total numbers eclipsed 600,000.

“If you use ATVs responsibly, why blackball all of them when only a few of them are being misused,” Pettis said. “If you’re an elderly person or disabled person, you should be able to use an ATV.”

http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/news/archive/local_9863551.shtml

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