Wisconsin - deer - snow

Wisconsin Republicans’ decision to eliminate the state’s minimum hunting age has created an embarrassing perception that infants are roaming the state’s woods with guns and could allow adults to kill more animals using young children’s tags, a state Department of Natural Resources board member said Dec. 12.

Board member Frederick Prehn told agency officials during a review of the 2017 nine-day gun deer season that he had taken calls about people questioning selling licenses to such young children. He said news of the sales had gone national and generated bad publicity, even though the infants couldn’t have been out hunting themselves.

“It was rather embarrassing,” Prehn said. “Wisconsin now has babies hunting, which clearly isn’t the case.”

Scott Walker signed a Republican-backed bill heading into the nine-day hunting season that eliminated the requirement that a child be at least 10 years old to participate in a mentored hunt.

The DNR sold 1,814 mentored hunt licenses to children nine years old or younger by the end of the nine days. Most went to 9-year-olds, though 52 went to children age five and under, including 10 that went to kids under a year old.

A 4-year-old was the youngest licensee to register a kill, though state data doesn’t show who actually killed the deer.

“People call me up and say ‘What are you doing, allowing 1-year-olds to hunt?’” Prehn told a reporter during a break. “Clearly a 1-year-old can’t hunt.”

He said eliminating the hunting age allows adults to use small children’s tags to kill more animals for themselves and he believes that’s wrong.

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