"GAME MANAGEMENT," SAYS JAMES Kroll, driving to his high-fenced, two-hundred-acre spread near Nacogdoches, "is the last bastion of communism." Kroll, also known as Dr. Deer, is the director of the Forestry Resources Institute of Texas at Stephen F. Austin State University, and the "management" he is referring to is the sort practiced by the State of Texas. The 55-year-old Kroll is the leading light in the field of private deer management as a means to add value to the land. His belief is so absolute that some detractors refer to him as Dr. Dough, implying that his eye is on the bottom line more than on the natural world.
Kroll, who has been the foremost proponent of deer ranching in Texas for more than thirty years, doesn't mind the controversy and certainly doesn't fade in the heat. People who call for more public lands are "cocktail conservationists," he says, who are really pining for socialism. He calls national parks "wildlife ghettos" and flatly accuses the government of gross mismanagement. He argues that his relatively tiny acreage, marked by eight-foot fences and posted signs warning off would-be poachers, is a better model for keeping what's natural natural while making money off the land.
A trip to South Africa six years ago convinced Kroll that he was on the right track. There he encountered areas of primitive, lush wildlife-rich habitats called game ranches. They were privately owned, privately managed, and enclosed by high fences. He noticed how most of the land outside those fences had been grazed to the nub, used up. "Game ranches there derive their income from these animals—viewing them, hunting them, selling their meat," he says. "There are no losers." At his own ranch Kroll has set up a smaller version of the same thing. His land is indeed lush, verdant, with pine groves, an abundance of undergrowth, wild orchids, New Jersey tea, jack-in-the-pulpits, and other native plants. He has also set up a full-scale breeding research center and is one of twenty Texas deer breeders using artificial insemination to improve his herd. "We balance sex and age ratio," he says. "We manage habitat. We control the population and manage for hunting. I want to leave the deer herd better than it was before we came."
When the subject of chronic wasting disease on high-fenced elk ranches in Colorado is raised, he casts a wary eye. "You know where that started? On a state-run research farm." He believes that private landowners would never let that happen. Like Johnston, he argues that the landowner who relies on his land for a living has plenty of motivation to keep diseases at bay.
Lately the power has been shifting in Kroll's direction. Last year deer-ranching interests persuaded Parks and Wildlife to alter rules and allow landowners to choose their own biologists in creating wildlife-management plans for their land, rather than have one from Parks and Wildlife. That has given landowners more freedom, says Kroll, but he wants even more. "You still have to let the state on your land to get a wildlife-management permit," he says.
retch sweeny wrote: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.
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