Though all the details of Gov. Scott Walker's proposed biennium budget have not been made public, late last week his office began releasing parts and pieces of a document that will receive a great deal of scrutiny in the next few weeks.
One piece of the budget that has been made public is Walker's proposal to fund the initiatives outlined in Wisconsin's white-tailed deer trustee report, which was released last year. The report, which was crafted by Dr. James Kroll, a noted deer management expert, with assistance from Gary Alt and David Guynn, details the steps that need to be taken to ensure Wisconsin's rich hunting tradition remains intact for the next several generations of young hunters.
Walker has earmarked the money to help the state employ state-of-the-art technology to review land cover and help DNR experts better understand and project herd population numbers and establish harvest goals accordingly. In addition, the governor plans to fund the creation of a Deer Management Assistance Program, which would be established to improve the interaction between hunters, landowners and the DNR. Kroll, who was commissioned to create the deer trustee report, noted that the relationship between the hunting public and the DNR is critical to the future of hunting in Wisconsin. Walker also expects the state to follow the trustee report and change course from what has been an aggressive approach to the eradication of Chronic Wasting Disease in Wisconsin.
We believe the trustee report is on the mark, and we also think the governor is making the right moves in terms of putting financial resources behind the initiatives outlined in the document. Paying Kroll $125,000 to study the state of deer hunting and management of the deer herd was a serious commitment, and it would be a big mistake to let his findings be lost in the shuffle of balancing the really big numbers in the budget.
Deer hunting in Wisconsin is not broken; in fact, it is a thriving, economic machine. The financial impact hunting has in Wisconsin can be counted in billions of dollars, and while the world has changed at a dizzying pace over the past 50 years, the tradition of the deer hunt in Wisconsin remains strong. The trustee report outlined the key areas that need to be addressed, and what much of the massive report boils down to is ensuring the bond of trust between the hunter and the DNR is solid. Some would argue that trust has waned over the last several years for myriad reasons, and that is all the more reason why Walker is wise to heed the findings in the deer trustee report and take action.
Walker has made a number of moves during his time in office to make the DNR a state agency that is more approachable and more user friendly. Some of the moves have been subtle, but Walker has been consistent in his support of improving the relationship between the hunting public and the DNR. His plan to set aside money in the budget to address action items in the deer trustee report is a big step in the right direction, and we hope legislators on both sides of the aisle support Gov. Walker on this issue.