People participating in the 2020 Wisconsin Conservation Congress in April showed broad support for reducing bag limits for smallmouth bass and muskellunge on the upper St. Croix and Namekagon Rivers.
The annual event when the public can weigh in on a wide range of conservation issues in the state was offered entirely online this year. Normally, there are meetings in all 87 counties across the state.
This year saw a record-setting 64,943 responses to the 2020 Spring Hearing Questionnaire. Two questions concerning fishing on the upper St. Croix River and Namekagon River were included:
- #36: Reduce daily bag limit for smallmouth bass on the Namekagon and St. Croix Rivers to one fish with a harvest minimum of 18 inches?
- #37: Reduce daily bag limit for musky on the Namekagon and St. Croix Rivers to one fish with a harvest minimum of 50 inches
Across the state, 24,484 Wisconsin residents supported the tighter smallmouth bass bag limits compared to 7,796 opposed, while 27,437 supported the proposed regulation for musky, with 6,814 opposed.
In the three counties around the upper St. Croix and Namekagon, Burnett, Sawyer, and Washburn Counties, local residents also support the restrictions. Of people who said they reside in one of those counties, 565 supported the smallmouth limit reduction, with 310 opposed, and 648 supported the musky limit reduction, with 267 opposed.
This Wisconsin Conservation Congress was created in 1934 as a separate organization from the Department of Natural Resources. It is run by delegates elected at the local level and driven by citizen resolutions.
Questions which are supported by respondents to the Spring Questionnaire, like the proposed changes to fishing limits on the upper St. Croix and Namekagon, are next sent to DNR staff for review. Approved recommendations are then sent to the Natural Resources Board, back to the Conservation Congress, and eventually to the state legislature for final passage.
See the full results from this year’s spring questionnaire on the Wisconsin Conservation Congress website.
Another important question for St. Croix River wildlife is lead fishing tackle and ammunition, which kills countless swans, eagles, loons, and other birds every year. These questions were tighter, with more respondents supporting the use of non-toxic shot, but not bullets and slugs.
Here are some key questions and answers: