Wisconsin Gov. Walker orders changes to deer program
The Associated Press
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Scott Walker’s executive budget will order the Department of Natural Resources to create new deer mini-hunts as well as provide funding to create updated maps of the state and continue chronic wasting disease surveillance, he announced Friday.
The moves mirror recommendations Texas researcher James Kroll made to the state Department of Natural Resources last summer on how the agency can improve deer management and minimize conflicts with hunters, who have been feuding with the agency for years over what they see as draconian herd control strategies. Walker, a Republican, promised during his 2010 campaign to respond to hunters’ complaints. After he took office he hired Kroll for $125,000 to review agency policies.
“This is not a report that is going to sit on a shelf and collect dust,” Walker said in a statement Friday. “The budget language paves the way for progress, giving DNR the tools necessary to implement (Kroll’s recommendations).”
Walker offered only a vague outline of his plans Friday. He didn’t provide any details on how much any of the initiatives would cost or how he would pay for them.
He said the budget will authorize the DNR to establish what’s known as a deer management assistance program, which would allow landowners and hunting clubs to run their own mini-hunts after consulting with DNR biologists and pledging to share data on kills’ gender, weight and antler spread.
Twenty states have similar programs, according to Kroll’s report. Kroll wrote that the programs help build relationships between landowners, hunters and wildlife agencies but noted some states charge their program participants hundreds of dollars.
Walker’s spokesman referred questions on the plan to DNR officials. The agency’s land division administrator, Kurt Thiede, said the budget will authorize the DNR to establish fees for participation and hire a program coordinator with money from either state hunting licenses or federal fish and wildlife dollars. The agency would set participation fees as the program develops, Thiede added, saying it won’t be implemented until 2014.