May 17, 2012 by Barbara With
Deer hunting may soon join open government and good schools on the pile of Wisconsin traditions trashed by Scott Walker.
Each November, hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites take to the woods to hunt, thinning our large herd of white tailed deer. A love of the hunt crosses all social and economic boundaries. Indeed, in the politically polarized environment of present day Wisconsin, deer hunting is one of the few activities that stirs passions strong enough to make many of us set aside our differences and share a few days with our fellow citizens, without regard to their political opinions.
If Walker gets his way, all of this will change.
As reported in Lodi Valley News, Walker has hired Texan Dr. James Kroll to serve as Wisconsin’s “deer czar,” a position that gives Kroll considerable power over Wisconsin’s deer management policy. Kroll is an outspoken proponent of game farms, and an opponent of public lands and public game management, which he is on record as describing as “the last bastion of communism.”
The public lands Kroll despises include the state parks, state and national forests, and other publicly held property that hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites—particularly in the northern part of the state—rely on for deer hunting. Hunters on public land may be surprised to discover that Walker regards their annual trek into a state forest as a radical left wing activity akin to marching in a May Day parade in Red Square. But so it is.
If Kroll gets his way, public land hunters will get the shaft. The deer herd no longer would be managed as a public resource, but as the private property of wealthy landowners. Wisconsin will become like Europe, where hunting is the privilege of the wealthy.
Kroll’s view fit in nicely with those of DNR secretary Cathy Stepp, a Walker appointee who already has suggested that public lands be sold.
What this means for hunters is that the management of the state’s deer herd could be sold or contracted to management corporations like Johnson Timber, who already owns Summit Lake Game Farm on the southern edge of the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation, and vast tracts of timber land. Joe Hunter would have to buy his hunting tag (and perhaps make a bid on it) from a private game management firm for his deer, grouse, turkey, wolf, berry picking permits, etc.—in a monetized way—in order to exact the highest commercial value. The Game Management Unit, which encompasses timber company and other private, county and state park lands, would profit. They would also have their own Game Managers police force issue your license. In this way, the State would reap the benefits by taxing the net Income after expenses and be out of the business of managing the fish, deer, and other resource gathering rights.
To people who do not own land, or who cannot pay for access to other people’s land, Walker and Kroll’s message is simple: tough luck.
[Editor’s note: A rebuttal to this article has been published here]