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Ever since 2002 Wisconsin has had a deer problem. They’ve also had a deer management problem. When chronic wasting disease was found there (yes, 2002), their DNR was the first state to have to really deal with this problem in a big way. It was a thankless job and there was no way they could please everyone.
They established a ‘hot zone’ and tried to shoot their way out of the disease. That did not work and it made hunters mad. The state increased deer harvests and any time you do that, it makes hunters mad, even though at that time, it was probably the thing to do. Even if you can’t shoot your way out of CWD, shooting more deer does slow the growth, and the Wisconsin DNR had no choice.
Then they had to handle the bait problem, because CWD is spread at bait sites. Threaten hunters with the loss of the ability to hunt over bait and you make them mad. It’s a shame that hunters feel that way about baiting deer, but they do.
So, what happens when hunters get upset with DNR’s (as they seem to do a lot)? The hunters turn to politicians to help them out. I’m not saying that state wildlife agencies are perfect. I’m not saying they don’t make mistakes. But, for the most part, these agencies have really good, qualified, educated biologists and managers doing good jobs.
All of this leads us to a pertinent question.
Who knows more about managing deer in any state? State biologists who work for the state wildlife agency, or politicians who serve in that state? Take your time with this question. Think it through. OK, pencils down. What did you come up with? Aha. Not brain surgery is it? Yet, time after time we see the hunters running to politicians to hammer the state wildlife agencies. That’s what has happened in Wisconsin and let’s look at the results.
There is a Republican candidate for Governor there named Scott Walker, who appealed to the hunter vote by stating that Wisconsin needed an independent auditor to monitor the management of the deer herd. He felt this was true because the hunters no longer supported the management done by the wildlife agency. Walker said this would take the politics out of deer management.
Now that is just so crazy, I find it hard to believe. Bringing in an outside auditor, selected by the Governor, doesn’t take out the politics, it puts more politics into wildlife management. Walkers two major opponents, one a Republican and one a Democrat, disagreed with the idea. I hope so. Apparently part of Walkers problem was that he hadn’t seen deer during the previous hunting season.
The Obama administration has increased the layers of bureaucracy in a big way with obvious outcomes. The idea of bringing in someone from the outside to manage deer in Wisconsin does more of that. I’m sorry Walker isn’t seeing deer. But, DNR’s do not need outside help. Bring in a panel of deer experts to review the deer management program in Wisconsin to help the DNR rework their program. That’s not a bad idea at all. But to bring in one person to audit and rework their program is a disaster waiting to happen. Wonder who got elected Governor in Wisconsin?