Editorial: Managing Wisconsin’s deer herd a matter for all residents
The Associated Press
Oshkosh Northwestern. July 14, 2012.
Managing deer herd is a matter for all residents
There are a number of common sense recommendations in the final report of Dr. James Kroll, a consultant hired by the governor to review Wisconsin’s deer management programs. For instance, the report released last week calls for the Department of Natural Resources to adopt simpler goals for managing the deer populations and to dramatically improve its public outreach.
“This is a get-out-of-jail-free card, a reset button, but you only get to press it once,” Kroll told Wisconsin Outdoor Fun. “There’s enough blame to go around to everybody. If these recommendations aren’t picked up, hunters will continue to leave in droves, and the animosity (between DNR and hunters) is going to deteriorate even further.”
Kroll was hired last October by the Department of Administration for the new position of Deer Trustee. He was paid $125,000 to conduct the study and make a series of recommendations, an idea that grew out of Gov. Scott Walker’s 2010 campaign and concerns expressed by hunters over the management of the state’s herd.
An initial report released last spring was highly critical of the DNR. The final report did not spare the agency of criticism, but also noted that hunters share in blame by pushing for higher deer populations than the land can sustain. “Ironically, by attempting to raise more deer than the land can sustain, they wind up with fewer deer,” the report said.
It goes without saying that there is plenty of blame to spread. While we believe Kroll’s report provides a starting place to begin crafting a sensible plan moving forward, it suffers from the same flaw as most discussions about wildlife management: framing the issue as one of the DNR vs. hunters. Managing public resources is an issue for all Wisconsinites, whether they, hunt, fish, enjoy observing nature or travel on state highways.
Moreover, the substantial economic impact of Wisconsin’s outdoors means that policy makers need to carefully weigh and balance short-term demands and long-term benefits. In short, hitting the reset button means more than initiating a discussion with hunters, but all residents who will gain by wise management or suffer from business as usual.
Kroll has occasionally been dubbed the state’s “Deer Czar.” Some of that can be attributed to recall politics. The governor’s decision to bring in an independent, outside expert to review the state’s programs is a sound idea. Nothing in the report suggests Kroll sees himself as an autocratic authority. The only way the “Czar” label would stick is if political leaders use the report as the final word in mending deer management instead of the first salvo.