Fri October 4, 2013
Some Public Lands Closed To Hunters After Government Shutdown
The Department of Natural Resources is reporting a surge in calls from hunters asking where they can hunt following the government shutdown.
For hunters, public lands are public lands – it doesn’t really matter whether it’s county, state or federal. During a government shutdown, however, it matters quite a bit. Now, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management shuttered, some public lands are off limits to hunters.
Matt O’Brien, an administrative warden with the DNR, says along the Mississippi River – a major flyway for migrating waterfowl – federally owned islands, shorelands, and boat launches are closed.
“In this case, the federal government is pretty much like a private landowner that has denied permission to hunt on the land,” says O’Brien. “Individuals should not be accessing the lands that are controlled by the federal government that are currently owned.”
O’Brien says people can still hunt on the river. “As of right now, as long as they can get into the waters legally … they can hunt, fish, [and] boat.”
O’Brien says it’s confusing for citizens and the DNR since most customer service staff at federal agencies are furloughed. But generally, he says, major access points on federal land that are closed have signs alerting hunters.
“For all intents and purposes, it’s business as usual,” says O’Brien. “They’re just going to need to be a little bit more particular and careful about where they’re hunting. They still have to get all federal stamps, follow all state regulations and our state wardens are going to be out.”
Hunting, fishing and hiking are still allowed in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest but all campgrounds and designated recreational areas are closed.