The state Department of Natural Resources Board has just handed a victory to Gov. Scott Walker by passing many of the deer hunting recommendations made by Walker's “Deer Czar.”
After he was elected, Walker paid $125,000 to Texas hunter and wildlife researcher James Kroll to recommend changes in the Wisconsin deer hunt. Kroll, also known as "Dr. Deer," has been to Wisconsin several times, but didn't come to Madison for the DNR vote on Tuesday. He instead sent a video of himself talking in an office that had deer heads on the wall behind him.
Walker and Doyle appointees on the board still passed a Kroll-backed deer management plan that could eventually allow hunters to phone in their kill and avoid registration stations. The plan also changes many deer management units and sets up county committees to advise the DNR on the deer hunt.
DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp said the state isn't keeping things the way they were.
“That ain’t working, right? I mean, we hear that over and over again: Thousands of people across the state have told me that to do nothing isn’t acceptable anymore,” Stepp said.
Stepp's enthusiasm isn't shared by some Democratic lawmakers, white deer protection advocates, and deer hunters. Hunter Ralph Fritsch of Oconto County said the DNR didn't get enough input from the hunting community.
“While the department still held 35 public meetings and held an online survey, the total number reached by that process was less than 1 percent of all deer hunters in the state,” said Fritsch.
The DNR invites hunters to fine-tune the newly passed proposal and help implement it over the next couple years.