State lawmaker pushes to allow bow hunters closer to schools - WFXS, MyFoxWausau - News and Weather for Wausau, WI

State lawmaker pushes to allow bow hunters closer to schools

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Guns near schools is a hot-button issue nationwide but you may soon be able to add bow and arrows to that list here in Wisconsin.

At a public hearing in Madison, Democratic lawmakers questioned the wisdom of a bill that would allow bow hunters as close to school grounds as they want.

State law currently prohibits any type of hunting within 1,700 feet of a school or hospital grounds.  But a bill authored by Republican Representative Joel Kleefisch of Oconomowoc would change that law to only include firearms. Not bow and arrows or crossbows.

Ashlee Moore, an aide to Rep. Kleefisch says, "Areas that do not allow hunting are places of refuge for deer in Wisconsin, resulting in expensive property damage and increased numbers of automobile accidents."

Moore cites the high numbers of deer-car collisions as the reason behind the bill.  Dane county had the highest number in the state in 2010 at 854. 

"Safety has become such a priority in our schools and our communities and to come with a bill like this at this time seems just really inappropriate," says Sun Prairie Democrat Gary Hebl.  He says he can't imagine approaching the people in his district with such an idea.

"My God, Hebl says, 75 to 90% of my constituents would ask me if I needed a mental examination.  In the realm of Sandy Hook and what's going on at Newtown, in terms of hunting near schools... and near municipalities takes on a new element here."

The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation backs the bill, including a provision that would prevents cities and counties from opting out of it.

George Meyer with the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation says, "You would be facing possibly dissent in some of those communities, but it wouldn't be based on safety. It would be based on anti-hunting."

Meyer says he believes the DNR's law enforcement bureau would be the most appropriate group to review specific community concerns on a case-by-case basis.

The assembly committee on sporting heritage has yet to schedule a vote on the bill.

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