MADISON — Wisconsin Republican lawmakers want to expand hunting and gun rights in a series of new proposals they are calling the Wisconsin Sporting Freedom Act.
One proposal would create a hunting season for Sandhill Cranes. Supporters say the population has grown in Wisconsin and can damage crops.
Republicans turned to rock and roll star Ted Nugent to make their case for change. The Michigan resident is a rock star for Republicans when it comes to promoting gun rights and hunting.
"I've rocked and roll every year here since 1965, and I hunt and fish in Wisconsin because this is God's country," said Nugent during a news conference at the state Capitol.
Nugent joined Republican lawmakers to help expand hunting in Wisconsin and change regulations for the Department of Natural Resources, such as streamline the turkey hunting season and increase the pheasant stock.
The avid hunter says the rules are hurting families who want to hunt and fish. "My dad took his kids hunting so he didn't have to hunt for his kids," said Nugent.
Republicans say it's time for a Sandhill Crane hunting season for the once endangered bird as a way to reduce the population and damage to some crops.
But the International Crane Foundation says Wisconsin farmers are permitted to shoot Sandhill Cranes on their farms if they are eligible, by getting a permit from the federal government. The foundation says in 2019, 1,000 cranes were taken using these permits in Wisconsin.
Nugent suggests the cranes are edible.
"We want a balanced health, thriving population of Sandhill Cranes in the asset column, not in the liability column," said Nugent. "I recommend with garlic and butter."
The International Crane Foundation is watching this debate in Wisconsin closely and recognizes farmers' concerns, but says, "There is no evidence that a hunting season will address crop depredation in a meaningful way."