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Open season for woodchucks?


MADISON (WRN)  Concerns are being raised about a bill at the Capitol that would create an open hunting season in Wisconsin for woodchucks.

The legislation from state Representative Andre Jacque (R-De Pere) would remove woodchucks, also known as groundhogs, from the state’s protected species list. The change would allow anyone with a small game or trapping license to hunt and trap the animals. It would also create an open season without a bag or possession limit from March through December.

Current law already allows landowners to shoot or trap woodchucks that are causing damage on their property. Jacque says the legislation would allow others to assist in removing a nuisance animal that can destroy crops and burrow in fields.

During a hearing on the bill Wednesday at the Capitol, several lawmakers and members of the public raised concerns about the proposal. State Representative Gary Hebl (D-Sun Prairie) worries an open season would just lead to cases of thrill killing. He said it would be “highly immoral to just put on the books a law that allows hunting for the sake of killing an animal for no purpose other than to kill it.”

Jerry Hahn, who serves as caretaker of Sun Prairie’s Jimmy the Groundhog, argued there’s no reason to kill an animal that can be easily trapped and moved to a location where it will no longer be a nuisance. Hahn said he “can’t imagine waking up some morning and saying let’s go hunting woodchucks.”

The bill is currently before a state Assembly committee.