HERE WE go again with legislators attempting to ram through their personal agendas without regard to our spring fish and game hearing system, this time over the turkey hunting zones and seasons.

A lawmaker drafted a bill that would combine the current six hunting periods into two periods, while also creating just two turkey zones — north and south.

They are proposing a first season of two weeks for only preference-point applicants, and a second season of four weeks for the bulk of hunters.

The bill makes no mention of what happens to leftover “tags” not claimed by preference applicants and it does nothing to address harvest distribution in the second season.

What comes to mind is the old saying “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.” The current regulations could use some tweaking, like an earlier start to avoid Memorial Day weekend, but for the most part they are working for hunters, landowners and wildlife managers.

One major flaw in the bill is drawing a line through the middle of Wisconsin, using Highways 10, 29, 47 and 22 to create a northern and southern zone.

While the southern zone would be comprised of very similar farm-country habitat, the northern zone would combine units 4-7. That would mix farm country in Marathon, Langlade, Taylor and Oconto counties with the northern forest region.

As most turkey hunters know, there’s a huge turkey population difference between farm country and the northern forest. Counties with agricultural crops and milder winters have a much higher turkey population, and shouldn’t be combined with counties such as Vilas and Oneida.

What authors of the bill don’t explain is that the Department of Natural Rsources (DNR) already has a preference system that allows hunters to accumulate points to get the season and unit they prefer.

The current framework, which involves six one-week hunting periods that run from Wednesday to Tuesday, is fantastic for spreading out hunting pressure and allowing property owners to schedule various hunters or groups with ease.

The current system provides for a certain number of harvest authorizations in each week for each unit, specifically managed to how turkey populations are doing in the seven units.

It’s not perfect, of course, but it has been tweaked from time to time using public hearing input and votes on advisory questions forwarded by the Wisconsin Conservation Congress and the DNR.

That is the spring fish and game hearing system Wisconsin has traditionally used for changing hunting seasons, regulations and making similar adjustments.

The system is slow and deliberate when it comes to making changes, with the average rule change taking two to four years to get proposed, approved and implemented. And most of the time, there’s good reason for that. Good decisions are better than quick decisions, and most of the time, the issues aren’t urgent.

The problem with politically-driven lawmakers is that they don’t always see the whole picture, including the wildlife management side of things. This bill pretty much takes the DNR out of the management picture, though the agency would have to promulgate rules to implement any legislative mandate that passes.

The danger in lumping farm country and northern forest units together is that tag numbers will significantly increase across the unit, which could result in an overharvest of turkeys.

The problem with going to two seasons is that it will concentrate hunting pressure on the days and weeks with the best weather, which could lead to safety concerns and user conflicts on some properties.

The legislators are saying this bill and a dozen others are part of a Sporting Freedom package that is designed to increase opportunity for hunting and fishing while reducing the regulatory burden.

And maybe they are correct that this will simplify the rules. But that doesn’t mean it will work for wildlife managers trying to set tag numbers or landowners trying to accommodate family and friends.

I can’t remember a time when hunters supported a spring hearing question that called for drastically overhauling the turkey season framework. So lawmakers aren’t acting on behalf of the most active sportsmen and -women in Wisconsin.

Besides, today’s rules aren’t so complicated that any hunter can’t figure out how to apply for one of the six one-week periods and one of the seven management zones. How is anyone getting stumped by that?

The current system spreads out the hunting pressure in a very methodical and successful manner, allotting a certain number of tags in each week in each unit.  That’s makes the hunt easier to schedule and much safer for everyone involved.

This part of the Sporting Freedom package is as bad as the bill that proposes to legalize the carrying of firearms, bows and crossbows while shining deer at night — if you can even believe somebody would propose that one.

Enough of the heavy-handed legislative interference with our traditional system for changing hunting and fishing regulations.