I Can't Afford $2000 for the Right to Hunt - Can You?
Walker appointee says
Why is Kroll controversial? Kroll is on record as stating that people who want more public hunting opportunities are "pining for socialism" and that "Game Management is the last bastion of communism." In Texas, where Kroll comes from, there's a tradition of private ownership of land by private game farm owners (Kroll owns a 200 acre deer ranch) and over 95% of hunting is now done on private land. Getting a lease to to hunt on that land costs around $2000-$5000 per gun.
There's no point in owning a deer rifle if you don't have a place to use it, but Kroll wants to put many of Wisconsin's deer behind eight foot fences. One article that I read defending the appointment suggests that the $24 cost for a hunting license is too low, that "$750 or $1000 for a deer really is not very expensive", and that anyone who can't afford it should hunt rabbits. Of course, the state is also considering selling off DNR-owned land, so it may be harder to find a place to do even that. As one deer manager said about public-land hunters, "It will suck to be you."
Can Walker go and sell public lands on his own? No - but he can appoint people to the DNR, and thus far he's had no trouble whatsoever getting his extreme agenda through the republican-controlled legislature. He already appointed Scott Gunderson, who previously pushed for legislation that would have denied public access to over a third of Wisconsin's public waterways, as the DNR Executive Assistant.
What's a deer czar? This is a new position that was created by Governor Walker last year to tell Wisconsin how to manage our deer. Traditionally, this has been done by the DNR; while hunters haven't always (or usually) been happy with them, their goal at least is to manage public resources for the good of the state rather than to make money, and the last outsider review, by a group of leading scientists in 2006, concluded that "Wisconsin has the most comprehensive and transparent deer management program [in the country]." Dr. James Kroll, a deer rancher from Texas, was appointed to the job, for which we'll be paying him $125,000. His report, the preliminary version of which is available now, will make recommendations as to how public land use and hunting permits should be changed in the future. The report will go directly to the governor, bypassing the DNR and the public; we get no say in it.
What can we do? The most important thing is to raise awareness of this issue. Tell people what's going on. Write a letter to the editor. Share this website on Facebook. Post this flier (or the black and white version). Vote! If Walker loses the recall election, his privatizing Deer Czar goes with him, and we can keep this from happening and avoid losing our hunting rights. Wisconsin has a long tradition of public lands being managed for the public good; let's not destroy that in the pursuit of private profit.
For more information, check out the following articles:
Let's not privatize hunting;
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