River Hills officials express concern over state hunting bill

Proposed legislation could limit municipalities' control of bow hunting

Feb. 26, 2013

River Hills - Village officials have expressed concern about proposed legislation that could prevent local enforcement of bow hunting.

The Village Board last week voted 5-0 in favor of directing Village President Robert Brunner and Village Manager Chris Lear to write a letter imploring state legislators to vote against 2013 Assembly Bill 8.

The bill, which remains under review, was introduced by State Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc, and State Rep. Tom Larson, R-Colfax. It has been cosponsored by State Sen. Neal Kedzie, R-Elkhorn, and State Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau.

If passed in its current iteration, Bill 8 strips municipalities of the ability to enact ordinances that prohibit people from hunting with a bow and arrow or crossbow.

Trustee R. David Fritz Jr. expressed concern about the proposed legislation.

"This would prevent us from having a say," Fritz said. "We'd have no control."

However, municipal government would still have the ability to place restrictions on bow hunting in narrow circumstances. For example, it could be prohibited within 100 yards of a building used for human occupancy on land owned by a different person.

With most of Milwaukee County built up and landlocked, Bill 8 essentially would not pertain to the majority of the surrounding area. But River Hills, with its multiple acres of open space, has maintained its rural characteristics since incorporating in 1930.

Bow hunting could potentially occur on private residential property if the bill moves forward because of River Hills' landscape.

The letter being written by Brunner and Lear will be sent to State Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills and State Rep. Sandy Pasch, D-Whitefish Bay.

While discussing the issue last week, the board expressed concerns of people attempting to bow hunt on land they did not own.

"They'd be trespassing if they come onto your property without your permission," Village Attorney William Dineen said. "But, if your property line wasn't clear, and they came onto your property, you would have to verbally express that they are trespassing."

If the ordinance were to move forward, it remains uncertain what degree of bow hunting would occur within the village. Dineen reminded the board of a recent resident's request to hunt turkey through the hunting method, though the issue never moved beyond the preliminary discussion phase.

Current state laws prohibit people from hunting within 1,700 feet of a hospital, sanatorium or school grounds, though language pertains only to firearms.

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