MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Legislature's budget committee has approved reducing wolf hunt license fees.
Gov. Scott Walker included a proposal in his executive budget that would reduce state residents' fee from $100 to $47 and non-residents' fee from $500 to $249.
Walker's administration hopes the lower fees would encourage more people to purchase licenses. The administration also says the lower fees would be more consisted with bear and elk licenses, which stand at $49 for residents and $251 for non-residents.
The Republican-controlled budget panel voted 12-4 Wednesday to set the wolf fees at $49 for residents and $251 for non-residents, bringing the fees precisely in line with bear and elk licenses and providing $4,000 more for wolf damage claims and wolf management over the two-year budget than Walker's plan.
The Legislature's budget committee has also approved spending nearly $2 million in federal money to set up private deer hunts.
Researcher James Kroll last year suggested the Department of Natural Resources help landowners run hunts on their property in a joint effort to manage local herds.
Gov. Scott Walker's budget calls for devoting $1.9 million in Pittman-Robertson grants over the next two years to get the program off the ground. The grants are funded through federal taxes on firearms.
Minority Democrats on the Joint Finance Committee Wednesday moved to delete the provision from the budget and allow the DNR secretary to decide how to allocate the grants to the program but the attempt failed on a 4-12 party line vote. The panel then accepted the governor's position with no debate.
Also on Wednesday, the Legislature's finance committee has approved a plan in Gov. Walker's budget that would relax Wisconsin's chronic wasting disease testing protocols and allow elk importation.
The Department of Natural Resources wants to bring more elk into the state in hopes of launching a hunt. But state officials have outlawed importing elk unless the animals come from a herd verified as CWD-free for five years. The rule halted importation because no live CWD test exists.
Walker's budget would allow importation if the DNR takes practical steps to ensure the animals' health.
The committee revised the budget to say state agriculture officials must take the steps to make sure the herd is healthy rather than the DNR and approved the rest of the language on a 12-4 vote.
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