The Park Commission voted for the first time to allow animal trapping in a Dane County park.
In April the county purchased an additional 25 acres adjacent to the 265 acre McCarthy County Park in Sun Prairie for $325,000. The Department of Natural Resources recently offered a stewardship grant of $162,500, but accepting would mean abiding by the DNR's new recreation guidelines.
In 2007, the DNR stipulated stewardship projects need to allow hiking, hunting, skiing, fishing, as well as controversial animal trapping. Before Wednesday night, Dane County had not approved any grants under the new rule.
About 20 activists voiced their opposition to trapping at the commission's meeting Wednesday. Many expressed ethical concerns over sport killing. Two women said they had pets mistakenly snared in traps. A couple residents came to support trapping, saying the hunting is regulated and a Wisconsin tradition.
The commission voted to approve the grant, and by extension trapping, in a 5-2 vote. The DNR still has to officially approve the grant.
The holdouts were concerned approving the grant could create a precedent, although the commission agreed grants are an important source of funding for new park land.
Only two permits will be issued for trapping if the grant is approved, for a hunting season from November until the middle of February. Trapping will only be allowed on the 25 new park acres, and county staff say a ditch separates that land from the rest of the park.