Wisconsin timber rattler hunting to resume at state wildlife refuge

The Wisconsin Wildlife Resources Agency has announced plans to resume hunting at the Wisconsin Wildlife Refuge at Cabot Lake in Cabot, which is owned by the Waukesha County Commissioners and the state Department of Natural Resources.

The decision comes after the Wildlife Resources Board last month approved a proposal to transfer Cabot to the Wausau County Conservation District.

The Waukeens have a permit to hunt deer, elk and moose in the refuge, which has about 1,400 acres and a population of about 8,000.

The Wausaus have argued that the Cabot Wildlife Refuge is part of their historic hunting grounds and they don’t need a permit for deer hunting there, Wausauer-Drew said.

The state’s wildlife officials have not said whether they plan to reverse the decision.

The wildlife agency also has a permit from the state to hunt in the nearby Lake Wau, which was created in 1935 as a reservoir for the Wawas and now hosts a deer and elk hunting season.

The Cabot wildlife refuge is a popular hunting area and has been a favorite of hunters and anglers for decades, said Doug Schmitt, the Wiresman, Wis., president of the Wisconsin Hunters Association.

He said the state has a responsibility to preserve and protect the refuge for hunters and trappers, especially when hunting deer, moose and other wildlife.

But hunting at Cabots property is a state law violation and the Wawsau County Commissioners have asked for the agency to reconsider its decision, Schmitt said.

A petition signed by more than 200 Wawsaws and other groups is calling for the wildlife agency to stop hunting.

The petition was sent to Wawsaus officials on Monday and the county has not responded to the petition.

A Wisconsin wildlife biologist testified before the WWSA’s public safety committee on Tuesday that Cabot has a significant deer population and is “critical” to the wildlife and environmental resources at Cabote Lake, Schmiedecker said.

Cabot also is a favorite hunting spot for deer, he said.

Hunters and trapper groups have long been worried about the Cabots hunting grounds, Schreiber said.

In the mid-1990s, hunters in Cabots area began leaving their rifles behind when they were attacked by coyotes, Schmaler said.

Hunters are not allowed to shoot with rifles at Cabotes hunting grounds because they are considered a protected resource, Schmeiser said.

He added that the wildlife biologists who testified Tuesday had not examined the deer population in Cabotes since the 1990s.

The Wildlife Resources Act requires the WWA to maintain a “continuous management program” to ensure that “the public, wildlife and environment are protected from harm.”

But it says the agency has the authority to take action on a case-by-case basis, Schmit said.

Wawsaus and Cabot counties have had no problems with wildlife and wildlife biologists, Schmander said, adding that hunting at a deer, cow or elk park is illegal in Wawsas territory.

Wawsaw hunters are responsible for their own safety and they should know how to handle deer, Schmsier said.