Legislation banning the state Department of Natural Resources from using a controversial earn-a-buck program is on its way to the governor, after winning final approval Tuesday in the state Assembly.
The program was designed to control deer populations in areas where Chronic Wasting Disease is present. It requires hunters to kill an antlerless deer before they can claim a buck.
However, State Representative Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) argues it has damaged the hunting industry by upsetting hunters and driving them to other areas.
The program has been the source of frequent complaints from hunters who argue it has forced them to pass up on trophy bucks because they have not met the antlerless requirement.
Democrats mounted heavy criticism against the bill, arguing herd management should be decided by experts and not lawmakers. Baraboo Democrat Fred Clark (D-Baraboo) says banning the program will weaken the ability of the agency to control the deer population.
Tiffany says the agency will still have the power to make decision on herd management, which would include issuing additional tags for hunters each season.
Supporters of earn-a-buck say the program is needed not only to control the spread of CWD, but also to protect the agricultural and forestry industries from damage done by deer. Clark says Republicans are caving to complaints from a select group of hunters who feel entitled to shoot a trophy buck just because they bought a license.
Governor Walker supports eliminating earn-a-buck, but has not indicated whether he will sign the bill.
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports 1:07