QUESTION. Please explain the new law regarding a taxidermist’s requirement to record DNR carcass identification numbers (tag/harvest authorization numbers).
ANSWER. In March 2016, Wisconsin 2015 Act 89 took effect, which created this new requirement in law. If interested, the specific legal language can be viewed in Wisconsin State Statute 29.506(1)(am) & 29.506(5)(c). In short, this law change liberalized most user-harvest measures (durable unique carcass tags, etc.) but included a modified taxidermist record keeping requirement to maintain harvest integrity. Since March 2016, there have been additional significant changes to the laws related to fish & game, which have also impacted this change. During my presentation at the February 2018 WTA convention I provided an update on what the changes meant as of that date. As of the time of this writing, here are the legal requirements for licensed taxidermists to be aware of and follow regarding this specific issue;
- If a carcass arrives with a DNR carcass tag and/or registration number, that should be recorded as part of the customer record. On the contrary, if no DNR carcass tags and/or registration numbers accompany the carcass, there is no requirement by the taxidermist to record them. (Since there are no longer deer or turkey tags, taxidermists should not expect to see many deer or turkey harvested in Wisconsin with a tag or registration number attached.)
- If a carcass arrives that is required by law to be tagged (bobcat, fisher, otter, bear, etc.), that number is required to be recorded on the customer record.
As it relates to this topic, taxidermists are not expected to act as agents for the Department of Natural Resources. However, to minimize any risks of unintentional law violations, taxidermists should consider their own precautions on taking in carcasses and implement best business/ management practices when they are unsure of hunters’ tagging requirements, etc.
QUESTION. Please clarify the law and requirements regarding people who harvest bobcat, fisher or otter and the registration procedure.
ANSWER. In the Trapping Regulations, under “Possession Restrictions,” it states in part, “You may not transfer to another, give, trade, sell or purchase a raw pelt or unskinned carcass of any bobcat, fisher or otter without a registration tag being attached and locked to the head portion of the pelt by the department.” This language comes directly from Administrative Code NR 10.085 (6)(c). Additionally, in the “Registration” section it states in part, “Before registering a pelt at a designated DNR registration station, you must skin the animal and separate the pelt from the carcass. Skinning/pelt separation does not need to be completed before registration for specimens going to a taxidermist.” There is not an exemption in law or administrative code that exists which exempts taxidermists from the possession restriction. What that means is a taxidermist does not have authority to possess a bobcat, fisher or otter without the carcass already registered by the Department. While the regulations indicate the request from the Department to have the animal skinned out before registration, that is not a legal requirement when it comes to the registration process. I am aware there are wardens who have directed harvesters to take the animal to a taxidermist first before registration, and I am working internally to provide clarification and correction on this. While I understand the occasional inconvenience to the successful harvester, the Department is bound by the federal requirements of the CITES tagging process.
QUESTION. I am a taxidermist and also a hunter of waterfowl. At times, I may be in possession of personally harvested birds that are in the process of being mounted when the next open waterfowl hunting season opens. Can I legally go back out and harvest waterfowl if the taxidermy process has started on the birds from the previous season or would I be in violation of possession limits?
ANSWER. Based on federal laws/rules, until the taxidermy is finished it would remain part of the harvester’s daily bag/possession limit.