Patrick Durkin column: WBA director says he'll resign after citation

7:48 PM, Jan. 5, 2013  |  Comments
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A Wisconsin Bowhunters Association board member who is also its legislative liaison and represented the WBH on a 2007-08 stakeholder panel that helped rewrite DNR policies on chronic wasting disease was cited for illegal baiting/feeding Nov. 17 in Portage County.

Baiting/feeding deer was banned in Portage County after CWD was found there in 2002.

Ronald G. Kulas, 48, Delafield, one of 22 directors for the 6,000-member WBH, also represented the politically active group recently on DNR-appointed citizen committees that reviewed deer management-unit boundaries and alternatives to earn-a-buck.

Kulas was cited about 10 a.m. on opening day of Wisconsin's nine-day firearms deer season by Department of Natural Resources warden Barry Meister. The citation notes Kulas was hunting from a tree stand about 40 yards from where corn was spread, and Kulas admitted dumping "about half of a 5-gallon pail of shell corn" the previous Monday, Nov. 12.

"The subject stated he placed the corn at this location because his elderly father was planning on hunting from this stand, but (his father) changed his mind and hunted elsewhere," Meister wrote. The citation also notes Kulas shot a spike buck before Meister arrived.

The DNR banned baiting/feeding in Portage County because 80 deer on a fenced shooting preserve called the "Hall Farm" tested positive for CWD between 2002 and 2005. The farm, now quarantined DNR property, is about 20 miles south of where Kulas was cited.

The DNR has tested for CWD in Portage County annually since 2002, and confirmed the county's first case of the disease in wild deer this past week. The sick 11/2-year-old doe was shot Nov. 18 west of Stevens Point near the Mead Wildlife Area. Two CWD-positive wild deer also were discovered in recent weeks in nearby Adams and Juneau counties.

When contacted by email Dec. 17, Kulas declined comment on his citation. He said it was a "personal matter" and he did not contest it in Portage County court in Stevens Point because of health-related family obligations.

"I own my mistake and (will) pay the cost ($343.50), but I would hope folks would respect my families (sic) privacy in this matter," he wrote. Later that week, however, Kulas posted a 1,900-word explanation on a forum.

Besides testifying often for the WBH at legislative hearings, Kulas has administered the WBH's online forums. He also contributes often to other online forums, writing under names such as "Rancid Crabtree" and "Retch Sweeney," characters created by humorist Patrick McManus for stories in Outdoor Life and Field & Stream magazines.

Kulas knew baiting/feeding deer is illegal in Portage County. Writing as "Retch Sweeney" on an April 23, 2012, online forum, he said: "I don't place bait. It's illegal in the parts of Wisconsin I hunt. If it were legal, I would still not place bait. I hunt dairy (agricultural) lands, so there is plenty of ag-intended bait I hunt around."

On another online forum in August 2011, Kulas wrote: "Unless those 'magic stumps' are within 50 yards of your house, they are illegal bait sites, which makes (you) as good as a poacher."

In explaining his Nov. 17 citation, however, Kulas claimed on that he was cited for a feeding, not baiting, violation, even though Meister noted both are illegal.

Kulas further claimed he didn't pour corn at the site, but "snapped off a few ears" in a nearby field, and wrung the kernels from the cobs. He wrote:

"It was the wrong thing to do but I rationalized it as doing what I could to help my dad get a deer for all he had done for me over the years. Besides, in six days those kernels would be gobbled up and long gone, even if it was squirrels and jays that made off with it. ... My dad was unaware of what I had done. He would not have wanted the help."

Near the end of his online explanation, Kulas said he called the WBH's president, Mike Brust of Wausau, to explain the situation. He wrote: "I am going to be resigning my position on the (WBH) board and as legislative liaison. It's the correct thing to do. Nobody asked me to resign. ... I can continue to help the (organization) as an active volunteer, though not on the board."

When contacted last week, Brust declined comment on Kulas' citation and whether he or the WBH board accepted Kulas' resignations. Brust said the organization doesn't have specific policies for directors who receive fish and wildlife citations, but the board would discuss Kulas' actions Jan. 12 at a directors meeting in Stevens Point.

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