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Doctor Rips Dr. Deer About Deer Hunting Plan

James Kroll deer

The clock is ticking on Wisconsin's deer czar. He has 21 days to submit his final report to Gov. Scott Walker.

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.


Audio: Dan Schmidt Discusses Deer Czar on Foremost Outdoors Podcast

Lawmakers Demand Hearing with Wisconsin Deer Czar James Kroll

Comparing Wisconsin to Texas Whitetail Deer Hunting

Public Land Hunting: A Thing of the Past in Wisconsin?

Dr. Deer Preliminary Report: Will Bias Skew Results?

Deer Czar’s Preliminary Report: We Paid $150 Grand for This??



8 thoughts on “Doctor Rips Dr. Deer About Deer Hunting Plan

  1. Erik Jensen

    I’m watching this from next door in MN, but I think some of the Knoll supporters need to take a serious look at the article and some of the other questions that are being raised. It isn’t nobody that is asking questions, it’s a real scientist. The fact that he is a professor that lives in Madison and therefore might be a liberal means nothing. Some very liberal/progressive people like yours truly love hunting and spend a big chunk of our lives doing it and working to pass it on to our kids and others. The Daily Kos published a pro-hunting and pro-shooting sports article by yours truly, and the reaction it got was positive. There are anti-hunting conservatives, even a former speech writer for George W. Bush, who wrote a book called “Dominion”, which was deeply anti-hunting from a evangelical christian point of view. Admittedly, the anti-hunting conservatives are fewer in number than anti-hunting liberals, but an anti-hunting outlook is not exclusive to any ideology.

    There is a growing but small faction of the hunting community, and Dr. Knoll is among them, that is applying the hard-right ideology that anything that is collectively owned or done is bad. Everything should be commercialized and profited from, including public lands and wildlife. This will be bad for regular American hunters with average means and income. The fact that this is being used by liberal forces to hurt Walker also means nothing. Most regular conservative hunters I know support the North American Wildlife Conservation Model and public lands, and it may sway their opinion if Walker and other GOP officials attack it. That’s politics – people have a complex bag of issues they consider when voting. It’s not like the GOP never tried to slice off Democratic voters who were more in agreement with the GOP on a particular issue by bringing it up in an election campaign.

    What would be really helpful would be for more conservative hunters to raise a ruckus in their own party about the issue and that would stamp out this privatization of wildlife movement. There are some, hunters I’ve met in hunting/angling conservation organizations I’ve met, but not enough. I think at this point most hunters, liberal, moderate, and conservative are taking their hunting heritage for granted.

  2. Myakka Chuck

    “And any thorough, ethical and USEFUL…” report always includes those outside reports relied on to reach report’s conclusions.

    wish I could just edit my first comment, and/or delete the 2nd and 3rd. How about it D&DH blog administrator?


  3. Myakka Chuck

    DeerNick has it right.

    Plus, read Kroll’s scope of services – he wasn’t asked to do scientific studies. He was asked to review policies. His review of prior studies was entirely appropriate as was the inclusion of them in his study.

    Nationally recognized experts cost more and there were 3 of them workingon this study.

    The Daily Cos’ cynical attempt to use of the emotional response we deer hunters have regarding our favorite prey is/was despicable.

    I had spent over an hour reviewing Kroll’s prelim summary and writing a reasonably thorough response to your article and the prelim, but I hit the wrong key on this dang keyboard and lost it all, and this isn’t the first time or the first blog comment I’ve lost – the undo key rarely works on these blog comment posts – and I am too tired and ticked off to try to re-write it (I have finally learned my lesson: all long comments will be done in Word from now on!). But Alan Clemmons, if you’re listening, here’s another story idea (not that I’m all that anxious to go head-to-head with another nationally recognized deer expert Mr. Schmidt).


  4. Myakka Chuck

    DeerNick has the right cautious wait-and-see approach. Kroll can be an obnoxious egotist (I don’t usually watch his TV show for that reason), but that doesn’t mean he’s wrong on all counts . Hopefully, Kroll’s final report will address some of the issues raised by his critics regarding the preliminary report.

    Time and space to not provide adequate review of his study (and those cited in his report) but here are a few observations based on a quick scan of the 21-page summary of the preliminary report:

    I made my living writing analytical business reports and we always disliked providing preliminary reports or even drafts because they are just that – preliminary, subject to change, and as such may not reflect all findings and conclusions reached in the final report. Nevertheless, preliminaries are sometimes required, in which case, you darn well hope that you’re pretty close to what you’re going to say in the final. Preliminary reports tend to be summary in nature which means by definition they are brief. Also, we ALWAYS asked for ANY relevant previously completed reports or analyses: why reinvent the wheel if someone else has at least provided raw data which may be used in your analysis?; sometimes questions are raised by examining prior reports that may not have been asked by the client in contracting your services, or heaven forbid, that you did not think of yourself; in my/our case, we typically found conclusions of prior reports MOL valid at least to some degree, but methodology and analysis used to get there lacking, so we were able to provide improved versions of both to better serve the client. And any thorough, ethical and USEFUL

    If you read the scope of services Kroll cites in his preliminary summary report, he was asked to:

    “undertake an assessment of Wisconsin’s deer management plans and policies” regarding

    He was not asked to conduct scientific studies. Considering the breadth and extent of the four topics stated in his prelim (and probably quoted directly from his contract), I suspect it would have cost a LOT more to conduct new and separate science based studies to support his conclusions.

    Speaking of which, I know $150,000 (your first article indicated $125,000) sounds like a lot of money to the average Joe, but your state and local governments habitually spend that and more on private studies on a wide variety of subjects (just look at large traffic studies for instance and you might be shocked). Nationally recognized experts are often in high demand and their fees tend to be higher, and people (and govt is just a bunch of individual people) tend to think famous people’s judgement and opinions are superior. And this study had 3 nationally recognized experts (not to mention what I’m sure was a whole cadre of support staff). Unfortunately, my own bailiwick was (barely) statewide and I was never able to command 6-figure fees.

    Finally, it is scary how the Daily Cos cynically used the sniping at Kroll to try and divide Gov. Walker’s conservative base by taking advantage of the deeply emotional response we deer hunter have toward our favorite prey.

    Well, one more final note: I have not examined Kroll’s statements regarding public hunting land policy as the last bastion of the red menace but I suspect that underneath his hyperbole is concern over the diminution of science based wildlife management policies in favor of court rulings forced by the continual assault of the anti-hunting crowd. However, if he means what his critics claim he means, then he’s wrong and I’m wrong about that issue.

    Let’s wait and see what the final report says and judge it based on what Kroll et al were originally asked to do.

  5. DeerNick

    O Really nailed it on the head!

    Whether Kroll and his gang do a good job is yet to be seen – wait for the final report. In the mean time can we stop printing the democrats fear mongering as facts. This state is heavily divided and one must consider the source of what they are reading. Perhaps a professor in Madison is not the most unbiased source?… Or the website that published Walker and Kroll’s so called master plan to privatize all public land. Just look at the web address of that story and it becomes fairly obvious.


    We paid $150k for a full meal and these people are bi*ching after receiving the salad… relax… wait for the entree…. then write your critique.

  6. O Really

    Anyone in the “KNOW” has a brain and won’t fall for your propaganda that is spewing from your mouth!!! You make comments about how much he is getting paid….. In the 2000 report OVER 1 million dollars was spent that year!!!!! I think 150000 sounds like a bargain to me!!!!….. we only hear about it now because the democratic run papers and magazines have been out in full force to try to smear Walker and anything he does!!!! The hunters of Wisconsin(fewer and fewer every year) don’t care what political affiliation anyone is…. we only care about saving our tradition!!!!!! Then the other doc says he assumes “big changes” Yup U ARE RIGHT!!!!! No more senseless EXTERMINATION of deer because of insurance policies and political agenda!!!!!! You people are sickening

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