Wisconsin’s new deer czar appears to be a man on a mission now that many of us in the media have taken him to task for his mailed-in-effort of a preliminary report in what is supposed to be a “big fix” for the state’s deer hunting future.
Good. I hope he is doing just that.
However, if he indeed is taking all of the criticism to heart, he is still showing signs that he didn’t check his Texas-sized ego at the Illinois border. In an audio statement released on Wisconsin Public Radio’s website last week, Kroll defended himself and predicted his critics will have “egg on their faces” when he and his team release their final report (which is due is 21 days).
Don’t know how anyone who questions someone they’re paying $150,000 is suddenly the one in the cross-hairs, but I guess I’ve heard stranger comments over the years. If anything, Kroll learned the chumps who are footing the bill for his side gig are watching closely.
It was here, on the Whitetail Wisdom blog, back in March where Kroll’s work was questioned. Kroll (the self-proclaimed “Dr. Deer”) was retained by Gov. Scott Walker’s administration to serve as a “deer czar,” offering his opinions on the state’s deer management program and management practices. Kroll, who is being paid up to $150,000 for less than a year’s worth of service, has enlisted well-known wildlife biologists David Guynn Jr. and Gary L. Alt to assist in his review. The money is coming directly from Wisconsin hunters; segregated funds from the State Fish and Wildlife Account.
The report, posted March 28 on the DNR website, spans 186 pages, but only 21 of those pages are “new content.” Much of the report is rehashed data that was collected during the state’s Deer 2000 study, and the rest of it is Kroll’s resumé and vitae. Further, it appeared that much of this review is purely subjective and based off on an unscientific survey of 486 people who visited Kroll’s personal website. You would expect more for $150,000.
The reaction by many in-the-know deer enthusiasts was, “That’s it? This is just 6th-grade book report of Deer 2000, among other things. You would surely expect more for your money.”
That was my take, anyway, and it appears that I’m not alone. I talked with many professional deer biologists and deer managers from Wisconsin. None of them would go on record, however, because they are fearing for their jobs. Gag order? Don’t know, but it wouldn’t surprise me.
Then, today, we read an excellent investigative blog by Ron Seely of the Wisconsin State Journal. In this piece, he reveals that another doctor had also called Dr. Kroll to the carpet for his initial report.
In that article, Seely reports that Timothy Van Deelen also found fault with Kroll’s preliminary report. Of the preliminary draft, Van Deelen wrote, “The findings and conclusions drawn in the report appear to me to be significantly lacking in the scientific content and objective analysis one would need to ‘forge a new age,’ which I take to mean something similar to making big changes in Wisconsin’s deer management.”
Van Deelen, an associate professor for the University of Wisconsin, also blasted Kroll for being off base on criticisms of Wisconsin’s management of deer habitat, pointing to science-based studies that showed the state ranks 2nd in the country in white-tailed deer productivity.
For the record, Van Deelen, like Kroll, is technically a doctor, too. He earned his master’s degree in wildlife biology from the University of Montana, and his Ph.D in wildlife ecology from Michigan State University.
Once again, my criticisms of Kroll’s preliminary report should not be construed as an individual attack on the man. This is no different than me hiring someone to hang sheet rock in my house. If I’m paying the guy, he had better do more than a damn good job.
And, yes, in case you are wondering, if that sheet-rocker shows up and jags off for the first three days, you can be certain he’s going to hear about it.