Will Wisconsin Privatize Public Land?

Guest blog provided by the Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative

Walker to Deer Hunters: Pay Up or Get Lost

Deer hunting may soon join open government and good schools on the pile of Wisconsin traditions trashed by Governor 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 has his way, management of State resources, including deer hunting, will fall to private corporations.

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: The preceding is a guest blog provided by the Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative. The WCMC  is a group of citizen journalists who began covering the “Wisconsin Uprising” in February, 2011. The views expressed here are the opinions of the WCMC. For more information, visit http://wcmcoop.com.

15 thoughts on “Will Wisconsin Privatize Public Land?

  1. nonquixote

    If anyone reading here fails to see that Walker brought in a television personality to endorse his (Walker’s) plan to further privatize public resources for the benefit of the extremely wealthy few, I feel sorry for all of us, our children and our grand-children. Oh wait, we may not even get to that last generation.

  2. Tom

    It is a sad time in Wisconsin. DeerGrad – Do you really believe any of this?? Do you believe any of the ads, on either side, for face value? Do your homework! Think! Read! Evaluate! Don’t just listen and accept what you hear. I believe that Wisconsin deer hunters were a lot smarter and better educated than the average citizen. To think that we would be influenced by such one sided, distorted, outlandish propaganda is ridiculous.

    1. nonquixote

      The Wisconsin Conservation Congress has already been rendered toothless, by administrative rules proffered by the Walker regime. It doesn’t matter any longer, if you might follow your own advise and go and do what you are telling everyone to do, but obviously have failed to do yourself, do your freaking homework.

      When the new rules governing deer hunting in Wisconsin, scheduled to come out in their final form, at the end of June, no more public review or hearings will be held or required and no further legislative action will be sought or required. If Walker and his privatization deer rule product endorsement specialist are still in power, that is it for affordable public access to public hunting on PUBLIC lands. The end of the story.

      Once you have to bid $1000-$3,000 for access for a hunting spot, don’t be surprised when you start paying another per lb price for the animal you might take and another huge premium if it has antlers. To the Dr., $12-$15 a pound is reasonable. Got to pay for all the antler growth specialized feed you know, so he can sell more of the products he is endorsing..

  3. retch sweeny

    Worry is wasteful. Unfounded worry not at all grounded in reality is REALLY wasteful. Ultimately you are either a thinker or you are not. When you think this through, you know it was a liberal hatchet job meant as scare propoganda and totally BS.

  4. SP Badger

    Of course I realize Dr. Kroll does not have the authority to pass laws or write rules, that’s up to the legislature and governor (within the bounds of federal regulations.) But I have noticed Walker appoints, or hires, those who share his political views and overall vision (as I suppose most governors do). That’s why I think Kroll’s views matter… they point to what Walker will likely pursue.

    I did read the original Texas Monthly article, and it did not seem to me that Dr. Kroll’s quotes were taken out of context. That article told of Dr. Kroll’s advocacy for private deer management (such as his own business) and apparent disdain for public lands, based in part on his observations in South Africa and Texas. Wisconsin is different, and I hope that fact is respected, but am concerned it may not be. Based on the budget and legislation pushed by Walker over the past year, and what I’ve learned of his political associations and campaign contributors, he seems to have an overarching view that all of the state’s services and resources would be better off privatized … from state agencies, prisons, utilities, and schools, etc… to public lands?

    Me, I think there are some essential resources and services that should remain public (so taxpayers don’t get ripped off by profiteers once they have a monopoly on that essential resource), and some that can be effectively privatized. But I think it would be terribly sad to see Wisconsin on a path towards loss of public lands, overpriced private game management, and hunting limited to those who could afford admission to high-fenced game farms.

  5. retch sweeny

    You sir are falling for liberal propaganda. Walker is ahead and will crush the recall so the tantrum throwers are trotting out propaganda in an effort to get the casual/uneducated hunter to second guess. Its an age old trick that even some here (including D&DH) are falling for. It lacks the most basic understanding of WI law and is meant solely to incite without any substance. The comments in the original story were misrepresented and taken out of context.

    Kroll has no power beyond being a 3rd party reviewer of Wisconsin’s deer management program. His recommendations will got to the Governor and the legislature and then the DNR. Kroll is not a branch of WI government. He does not have the power nor authority to change statute or administrative code. Only the legislature can do that. WI has conservancy public lands, county public lands, state owned public land and federal controlled public lands. Each has different rules and regulations. The lib writer where this began must think all public is the same and that Kroll can make law and change statute. (the unnamed Lodi lib doesn’t understand the facts and the facts aren’t important when putting out propaganda, it just has to be fantastic and provocative and put doubt in peoples heads. )

    I’ll clue you in. Nothing Kroll recommends will trump Federal land laws and regulations. The WI legislature and Governor does not even possess such powers. The lib, Walker hater hit piece was not well thought out. It lacks common sense and even a basic understanding of controlling legal authority in regards to lands held in the public trust (at whatever level that trust is held in).

    Kroll will recommend separate tag allotments and management of public lands vs private lands because public lands are being ravished. This idea has been discussed in WI for years and has even gone through the CC spring hearings. WI hunters understand that for there to be good hunting on public lands we have to curb the doe killing. Kroll is partnered with Alt and Guynn (all 3 are PhD’s and well suited for the role they have in WI) There appointment ends in July. At that point, the Governor, legislature, DNR and the public will hash and rehash the recommendations and enact some and not enact others but the public will (as always) have a say in what happens and certainly the Feds will. Don’t fall prey for liberal propaganda.

    1. nonquixote

      I’d call you a, ” know it all,” but I’d be gravely mistaken. The only chance we have of Walker not attempting full privatization or sale of public lands in WI and monetizing the traditional deer hunt to the point of unaffordable, for most WI hunters, lies in voting him out on June 5. A scholar such as retch should know that the CC is entirely toothless thanks to the dictatorial administrative rule making authority freely given up to Walker by the state Republican legislative majorities in the last legislative session. Look it up, as you say.

      Read my lips, NO further public hearings nor legislative nor DNR input will be necessary for the finalized deer hunting recommendations, to be implemented at the end of June. Walker and Dr Deer already have the authority to do whatever they please if Walker is still in office after June 5.

      Readers, don’t fail prey to Reich-wing purposeful diversions from knowledge of the facts. Nothing is going to be hashed and re-hashed, here. Seriously, does anyone, but retch sleepy, really believe that a real estate developer, presently in charge of the DNR , (ready to give away [read destroy forever] the Bad River fresh water resource and $200B valued public iron ore resources for the wholly unsubstantiated, “promise,” of $1B for northern WI in new jobs) is going to care one bit about the average traditional hunter in WI? 200:1, that’s your chances that privatization of a public hunting resource will not occur this year. You can believe what was already tried once in giving away irreplaceable natural resources to private enterprise at the public expense this year or you can believe Mr retch’s, “oh don’t worry, don’t look at the man behind the curtain.”

      June 5, is the point of no return to preserve affordable public access to public lands, and preserving public access to currently public lands, period.

  6. SP Badger

    In the 6 lengthy paragraphs Dr. Kroll presumably wrote in the comments here, nowhere did I see him provide any facts that countered the factual statements or direct quotes in the above article. (Except for falsely claiming the Lodi Valley News got his age wrong… he should have noticed they accurately quoted an excerpt from a 2002 Texas Monthly article, that correctly noted he was 55 years old at the time of that article.)

    Forgive me if I’m skeptical of political appointees such as Dr. Kroll, but I would have found it far more helpful for him to explain his quote that “(public) game management is the last bastion of communism” (sounds like “political” statement to me), or assure me that he will not push for privatizing public (hunting) land in Wisconsin. If Dr. Kroll is on track to deliver recommendations to the governor in June, as he says he is, surely he could share with us his overall view or general plans for Wisconsin at this time… I wonder why he chose not to?

    I’m pretty tired of politicians (or there appointees) avoiding questions on important policy with heartwarming biographies… I’m just not buying it anymore.

  7. retch sweeny

    In light of the story in the Lodi paper and then mentioned here giving that story some amount of credibility (shame on D&DH for not doing a little fact checking) and the other outlets that quoted the story and then put additional spin (liberal spin with the intent to harm Walker before the recall) Dr. Kroll has now put out a message to those that would use such dishonorable tactics. Here is his message to those interested in the truth and from the man himself.

    “WHERE I STAND!

    DR. JAMES C. KROLL, WISCONSIN WHITE-TAILED DEER TRUSTEE

    I always have made it my policy not to become involved in political issues; politics often is a dirty game and I have no taste for the rules. My propensity, however, to come to the aid of the underdog has, on occasion put me in a position demanding participation. The white-tailed deer is my life, second only to my family and my God! I owe a great deal to whitetails; and my 40 years of work with these wonderful animals and the great men and women who hunt them has been a blessing. My father taught me three rules of life—know your convictions, stand strongly on them and always speak your mind and the truth. These simple rules got him through the 74 years of his life and they have served me well over the last 65 years. He was my hero, coming home from the Pacific theater all shot up and with very little interest in hunting anything. I had to learn to hunt on my own and thankfully under the kind eyes of two mentors, my Uncle Spencer (“Butch”) and a high school biology teacher, Mr. Victor Rippy. My family on both sides were small farmers, often harvesting game for the table rather than sport. I tell you this to make clear my feelings about animals and about people of the land.

    Recently, I have heard about things being said in blogs, presumably to aid successfully removing Governor Walker. Since I am not politically motivated, did not vote for Governor Walker, will not be able to in the up-coming election, and am neither a Democrat or Republican, I am concerned and saddened by things being said about me and my positions and values related to white-tailed deer. Although there is no way to combat anonymous postings on Internet blogs about me, I can speak in a straightforward manner what my positions are and will continue to be. Wisconsin is a marvelous place with some of the most beautiful places I ever have experienced. I have enjoyed my time with the hunters and landowners of this fine state. It was the highest honor of my career to be asked to be the “Deer Czar,” and I have said that many times. I take this responsibility seriously and view it as an opportunity to end my career by giving something back to the animal and the recreational pursuit that has shaped my life.

    My career has been full of experiences, involving a diversity of people, places and activities. I made the decision early on NOT to be a typical college professor; instead of the ivory tower existence of publish or perish, I opted for working with people in almost every state and province from Mexico to Canada. It has been my joy to hunt whitetails in every habitat and with every legal weapon. I have hunted on public land and on private land. My passion has been to hunt Crown land in Alberta and Saskatchewan, where the climate is brutal, the hunting is very difficult and the deer are the most challenging. At the same time, I have worked with both small and large landowners to make their lands better for deer, rather than converting the properties to pastures or shopping malls. As a consequence, it has been amusing and frankly frustrating to read or hear someone pronounce me as favoring one group or interest over another.

    Although my deepest feelings are my own, I think this is the time to firmly and completely express what my values and philosophies are. First and foremost, every decision I make regarding deer is based on the answers to three basic questions: 1. Is this good for deer? 2. Is this good for the recreational activity of deer hunting? 3. Does this save undeveloped land and the rural lifestyle? If the answer is no to any, I turn and walk away. Since I grew up in rural central Texas, I fully understand what being poor is! Hunting was more than recreation, it was a way of life. I am committed to the idea, in order for hunting/fishing to prevail, we have to develop ways to provide outdoor opportunities to all citizens. Public lands should be more than just space where hunters can spend time, they should be managed for quality experiences, especially by young boys and girls who may have grown up like me. Public lands often are the places where Native American hunters have to seek the plants and animals to which they have every right, by law and by what is right. But providing public hunting and recreational opportunities are a challenge in today’s world, and will have to involve partnerships between agencies, landowners and hunters. That is why I asked Drs. David Guynn and Gary Alt to assist in this great venture; a capstone for our careers. They represent not only the breadth of experiences needed to assure we truly do develop a 21st Century model for deer management and hunting, beginning in Wisconsin, but also the integrity and moral character so common to sportsmen and women—a model in which there is a place for everyone wanting to enjoy our passion and lifestyle. There is no place in this model for pitting hunters against each other or hunters against landowners! There only is a place for a brotherhood and sisterhood of outdoors people who truly love the land and our deer.

    Our report and recommendations will stand on the side of the public, offering a bottom-up approach to wildlife management; one in which individual hunters and landowners have a say in how resources are managed. Our recommendations will be delivered in June to the Governor’s office and will focus on this high ideal; one I never will back away from. My Dad would not be happy if I did.

    One of the most egregious postings was on a self-proclaimed “liberal” blog. Until now, I never have read either a liberal or a conservative blog; no time for that nonsense. However, I was sent this posting and upset by the lies presented in it! Is this what has led to the contentious times we live in today? The “author” of the blog distorts the truth beyond belief. The blogger rails on about me hating public lands, hating public land hunters, and most egregiously being disdainful of hunters! Not only is this not true and the facts not even close to correct, they even get my age wrong (not 55, rather 65). Even more disturbing was the undertone of the writer demeaning hunters. I cannot undo this slander, but I can be clear. If you read my words above carefully, you should understand where I stand. I STAND WITH THE SPORTSMEN/WOMEN OF WISCONSIN, I STAND WITH THE RURAL LIFESTYLE, I STAND WITH HUNTING/FISHING RECREATION, AND I STAND WITH THE WHITE-TAILED DEER!

    Now, I hope that is clear.”

  8. DeerGrad

    Wow, what a smack in the face to the middle-class! Anyone familiar with true deer management knows that there is NO blueprint, standard application, or mold…every property and situation is different. The fact that Texas is 99% Private land is a situation they have molded their deer management strategy too. However, in states like Wisconsin, where blue-collared workers head afield on public land to feed families and build memories is no place for privatization. It’s a sad day when someone “well-respected” turns their back completely on the FACT that WILDLIFE is collectively owned by the PEOPLE, not a specific individual or group. Anyone with private land is fortunate to be the custodians of this resource, but they will NEVER own wildlife. Selling WI’s public land would be one of the worst mistakes in the history of wildlife conservation. This is the push towards “market hunting” and open a history book to see that was nearly the demise of the white-tailed deer. Don’t repeat what we know doesn’t work!

  9. Wisc-Dells

    I wish I had a terminal disease and nothing to live for. At that moment I would put a bullet into Scott walker’s oil pan. He does not have the sense that God give a rock. As I do not have a terminal illness, I will fight Walker where I can hurt him. We can not allows this pompous ass and his followers to totally destroy our hunting and fishing heritage. To privatize hunting land is foolish and completely stupid. He will be gone and the politicians that remain after they pass this retarded bill, will reap all of the wrath of the constituents they shit on after Walker is cast out in 2 weeks. Good Luck keeping your jobs!

      1. nonquixote

        It is unfortunate that you are so politically biased that you cannot or will not see the facts. Using a public resource to fill the pockets of the wealthy has been the goal of capitalism since its inception and implementation in the annals of history.

        First of all, in the case of the deer czar in WI, no public oversight and no legislative approval will be needed to pass ALEC (look it up before you open your pie-hole and prove to everyone how little you know) based rules to govern hunting in this state. The republican state legislator already gave away their prior legislative rule-making authority to Walker. Privatization of public lands, so that a select few people will profit big from a public resource is the Reich-wing T-party agenda. Wake up, retch sleepy, camping, bird watching, berry picking, fishing are next.

        Your smaller government wishes are exactly what the right-wing will be getting. All decisions about you and your family’s interests decided by a megalomaniac dictator. Smaller isn’t necessarily better and will certainly not be saving you any money.

      2. VikingRN

        Scott Whamber is a failure as a governor. He threw away 5000 manufacturing jobs by killing high speed rail. God jobs that allow people the time and money to enjoy outdor recreation. If I lived in WI I would vote against him in a second.

        The polls are decidedly mixed for Tue. I doubt he will crush Mr. Barrett. If the governor survives he will face at least one hostile chamber in the legislature.

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