Wisconsin DNR board to consider new captive deer policy



MADISON, Wisconsin — The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ board is set to consider revisions to the agency’s captive deer policies this week.

The DNR has proposed changing state law to let people keep wild deer in pens if they pay fines and have veterinarians check the animals out. The agency also has proposed changing internal policies to allow DNR workers to return captive deer to the wild and specify they should euthanize captive deer only if the animals are sick or present a health risk to the public or other wildlife.

The Legislature would have to change state law to allow people to keep wild deer as pets. The DNR’s board can implement the other changes. The board is scheduled to consider them at its meeting Wednesday in Pembine.

DNR board to consider new captive deer policy.

Wisconsin DNR Secretary Stepp says fawn had to be euthanized : Ct

Thank you Cap Times and especially Jessica Vanegeren for covering this story. To make your voice heard see contacts below.

CONSERVATION WARDEN. Contact: Jennifer C. Niemeyer.
Location: DNR Field Office, 9531 Rayne Road, Suite 4, Sturtevant, WI 53177
262-878-5608 jennifer.niemeyer@wisconsin.gov

Last week, a fawn named Giggles was euthanized by state wardens after it was brought to a shelter by a family who believed the fawn had been abandoned by its mother.

The incident, first reported by Milwaukee’s WISN-TV, angered those caring for Giggles at the Society of St. Francis Animal Shelter near Kenosha. The fawn had been brought to the no-kill shelter by an Illinois family in an effort to save the animal.

In accordance with the state’s “captive deer laws” no animal is supposed to be taken or transported from its home in the wild.

In an ongoing effort to stop the spread of the deadly chronic wasting disease (CWD) among the state’s deer population, deer that are taken into captivity in areas of the state where CWD has been discovered are required to be euthanized.

Chronic wasting disease is a nervous system disease that infects white-tailed deer, mule deer, moose and elk. The disease has been found in these animals in 17 states, including Wisconsin.

There are no licensed rehabilitation facilities which are authorized to rehab deer in a CWD zone, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.

“Last week our warden staff had the difficult and emotional job of removing a fawn that was illegally taken out of the wild and into captivity,” said Cathy Stepp, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in a statement. “None of our staff take joy in these situations.”

Staff at the Society of St. Francis shelter told a WISN reporter that the fawn was taken from the shelter after being tranquilized by “nine DNR agents and four deputy sheriffs … all armed to the teeth.”

The DNR had received calls informing them of the fawn’s presence at the shelter. According to Stepp’s statement, the wardens did request voluntary compliance from the facility.

“When that didn’t happen, our staff took precautions to keep everyone safe as they executed the required search warrant,” said Stepp. “We are always very empathetic to those involved in these situations and understand how difficult they are to all who are involved.”

Stepp added the department does the best it can to educate the public about keeping wild animals in the wild.

“In the end, we are charged by the citizens of Wisconsin to carry out state laws mandated by the legislature,” she said. “It is a responsibility we take very seriously. We don’t have the ability to pick and choose which laws to enforce.”

A similar incident played out around Christmas 2011 when a fawn named Charlotte was rescued and brought to a shelter in Wisconsin. Gov. Scott Walker saved Charlotte from being euthanized after a story appeared in the Chicago Tribune.

Wisconsin DNR Secretary Stepp says fawn had to be euthanized : Ct.

13 Wisconsin officials raid animal shelter to kill baby deer named Giggles – Washington Times

Two weeks ago, Ray Schulze was working in a barn at the Society of St. Francis no-kill animal shelter in Kenosha, Wis., when officials swarmed the shelter with a search warrant.

“[There were] nine [Department of Natural Resources] agents and four deputy sheriffs, and they were all armed to the teeth,” Mr. Schulze told WISN 12. “It was like a SWAT team.”

The agents were there to retrieve a baby deer named Giggles that was dropped off by a family worried she had been abandoned by her mother, the station reported. Wisconsin law forbids the possession of wildlife.

“I said the deer is scheduled to go to the wildlife reserve the next day,” Mr. Schulze told the station. “I was thinking in my mind they were going to take the deer and take it to a wildlife shelter, and here they come carrying the baby deer over their shoulder. She was in a body bag,” Schulze said. “I said, ‘Why did you do that?’ He said, ‘That’s our policy,’ and I said, ‘That’s one hell of a policy.’”

Department of Natural Resources Supervisor Jennifer Niemeyer told WISN 12 that the law requires DNR agents to euthanize wild animals because of their potential danger.

The station asked if the raid could have been done in a less costly manner by making a phone call first.

“If a sheriff’s department is going in to do a search warrant on a drug bust, they don’t call them and ask them to voluntarily surrender their marijuana or whatever drug that they have before they show up,” the supervisor responded.

Shelter president Cindy Schultz said she plans to sue the agency.

“They went way over the top for a little tiny baby deer,” Schultz said.

13 Wisconsin officials raid animal shelter to kill baby deer named Giggles – Washington Times.

Patricia Randolph’s Madravenspeak: Members of DNR’s board should step down over wolf slaughter : Ct

“These people think Little Red Riding Hood was a documentary.” — Alice Miller

The Department of Natural Resources and the Natural Resources Board have a new target on wolves of 275, up from 201 last year. DNR’s objective: To “begin” to reduce the population. Licenses to be sold: 10 times the quota or 2,750. With 117 wolves killed in the trophy hunt, 76 killed for depredation, 24 reported killed on the roads, 22 detected illegal kills, and five other miscellaneous mortalities, the DNR reports 244 wolves were killed last year. With a 70 percent pup mortality rate, miraculously DNR reports that the wolf population is almost the same as it was before the first “successful season.” Of course, these new wolf hunter volunteer trackers serve their own agenda.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Green Bay gives a conservative estimate of the “shoot, shovel and shut up” illegal kill of wolves as 100 annually. There likely were 350 wolves killed last year.

Science does not support this crime but only you can save the imperiled wolf. A Mason-Dixon poll commissioned by the Humane Society established that 81 percent of Wisconsinites do not want wolves hunted, and 87 percent opposed using traps, bait, and packs of dogs to kill wolves.

Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, told me that if 10 people contact a legislator on an issue, that is a red flag. The DNR disclosed that 1,439 Wisconsin citizens wrote in to protest against the slaughter of our wolves. Zero wrote in to support the wolf hunt.

William Bruins, a Walker-appointee dairy farmer, announced at the recent Natural Resources Board meeting in Wausau, “God created homo sapiens to be in charge.”

Alice Miller, who drove several hundred miles to attend the meeting, said, “This is supposed to be about science, not some board member’s religion.” A board member told Miller that she had to vote for the quota “or Scott Walker would shut down the board.”

Cory Gierhart, Eau Claire, a self-described avid hunter, contributed: “I hear from lots of individuals who are pro-wolf hunting that hunting and killing wolves is necessary to keep the deer population up. According to the DNR website wolves consume about 16,000 deer annually, while cars alone hit 27,000, and humans shoot 340,000 deer annually. By decreasing the number of wolves, the number of sick and diseased deer increase, weakening the herd.” (CWD is on the rise alarmingly fast.) Working from federal carrying capacity models, he reckoned the realistic carrying capacity for the wolf in Wisconsin as 1,236. “Rather than allow the killing of such an important and beautiful animal, I believe it would be more beneficial to allow the wolf population to grow on its own, and let it level off naturally. … Give farmers better aid for fencing rather than aid for dead livestock.”

Sue McKean, Madison: “I am willing to pay the DNR up to $3,000 a year to stop the hunt and wonder how many others would as well?”

At least four organizations opposed the hunt and high quota, including Wisconsin Wildlife Ethic and the Wisconsin Wolf Front. The latter has conducted a poll canvassing six counties and 6,000 citizens, with 94 percent against using dogs on wolves.

The Sierra Club deplored the complete bias of the Wolf Advisory Committee, stacked with hunters, trappers and bear hounders. The Sierra Club was denied participation in the committee despite its stakeholder status since inception.

James T. Wronka, Shawano, a conservative Republican, wrote: “I have great difficulty in pulling the levers in support of my party, who certainly do not represent conservation.” He added: “Unfortunately we still have a very small percentage of people who still get entertainment out of killing our children’s wildlife. Our whole lake community’s peaceful tranquility gets ruined every autumn by 2-4 hunters (it’s hard to call these people hunters with their modern equipment) …from sunrise to sunset their entertainment ruins a beautiful morning … with their replication of being in the war zones of the Middle East. All for a pound of feathers. … Yet this small minority get the backing of a small minority of people most of us would think would be on the side of wildlife, our DNR. We’ve tried talking with DNR and state government elected officials to see if the majority could overrule the rights of this minority population, but to no avail.”

The first hunt has not been fully evaluated and many unanswered questions remain. We don’t know the ages of the wolves killed or how the hunting/trapping season affected pack dynamics. Did depredations increase because of pack disruption? There were 1,439 citizens against, zero for a hunt, yet the DNR is pushing forward with a more aggressive second hunt.

There is a clamor for Natural Resources Board members to have the integrity to resign.

Luann O’Dell: “These meetings for the public to come and speak are just a cover-up. They don’t mean anything. … I can’t believe that we have to stand up there and try to protect our wildlife from the DNR.”

Kurt Schlapper, Brooklyn: “Please let the wolves raise their pups and families in peace as we should have the right to do also. No life is above another, we are all equal in the eyes of God.”

But we are not all equal in the eyes of the Natural Resources Board, Legislature and DNR playing God.

Patricia Randolph of Portage is a longtime activist for wildlife. madravenspeak@gmail.com or www.wiwildlifeethic.org

Patricia Randolph’s Madravenspeak: Members of DNR’s board should step down over wolf slaughter : Ct.

Wisconsin woodchuck hunting bill gets cold reception | Herald Times Reporter | htrnews.com

MADISON — A handful of animal lovers tore into a bill that would establish a Wisconsin woodchuck hunting season, blasting the measure as unnecessary during a hearing Wednesday and calling it another sign that legislators are obsessed with killing wildlife.

Only eight people addressed the Assembly Natural Resources and Sporting Heritage Committee about the bill. One was the measure’s author, Rep. Andre Jacque, R-De Pere. Another was a Department of Natural Resources wildlife ecologist. The others all spoke against the proposal.

“I think the primary (motivation) here is thrill kill,” said Randy O’Connell, 59, of Omro, who described himself after the hearing as a recovering hunter. “This culture, not a heritage, needs to come to an end.”

Woodchucks, also known as groundhogs or whistle-pigs, are beaver-like creatures known for burrowing and gobbling up plants at a manic pace. They’ve been on the state’s protected species list for decades. Property owners can kill nuisance woodchucks but anyone else needs a license.

DNR ecologists don’t have any estimates on how many woodchucks live in Wisconsin, but they say they’re abundant and it’s not clear why they were ever placed on the protected species list. Some experts have speculated wildlife officials wanted to ensure woodchucks continued to burrow because the holes can provide shelter for other animals.

Jacque introduced a bill earlier this month that would remove woodchucks from the protected species list and establish a hunting and trapping season from March 1 through Dec. 31. The bill would prohibit the DNR from setting any bag limits.

Hunters already can kill a wide range of animals in Wisconsin, including deer, bears, wolves, mourning doves, coyotes, squirrels, rabbits and wild pigs. Legislators also have contemplated feral cat and sandhill crane seasons in recent years.

Jacque told the committee his bill is more about maintaining the integrity of the protected species list than hunting. He said there’s no biological or scientific reason why woodchucks deserve protected status.  See full story here:

Wisconsin woodchuck hunting bill gets cold reception | Herald Times Reporter | htrnews.com.

Hunting critics want a say in Wisconsin’s wildlife management – Isthmus | The Daily Page

Patty Lowry had never been to a meeting of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress before attending the group’s spring hearing last week at Sun Prairie High School. But her interest in the group has grown since she learned it was behind the recently passed state law allowing trapping and expanded hunting in state parks.

“I started hearing that the Conservation Congress had a tremendous amount of power and had a lot of clout with the Department of Natural Resources and the Legislature,” says Lowry, who lives in Madison. The Conservation Congress is an advisory body to the DNR made up of elected delegates from each county.

Lowry was one of the 662 people who packed Sun Prairie’s performing arts center April 8 to elect two Dane County delegates and to vote on numerous matters related to fishing, hunting and conservation. The turnout was higher than average, says Kari Lee-Zimmermann, the staff liaison between the Congress and the DNR, as it was at some of the other meetings held the same night in each of the state’s 72 counties.

Lowry says she and others new to the group turned out because they’re appalled at recent state wildlife management decisions, including those that permit wolf hunting with dogs and hunting and trapping in state parks.

“It’s like waking a sleeping giant,” she says. “A lot of people woke up to this nightmare that they were going to have to wear blaze orange in their state parks. You see it and can’t believe it’s happening.”

This backlash likely cost Matt Rainey his seat on the five-person Dane County delegation, as Melissa Smith beat him out for a two-year term in the first election of the evening. Another incumbent, however, held onto his seat for a three-year term.

In her stump speech, Smith declared that “hunting and trapping in state parks is not a compromise.” She promised to “give the majority in Dane County a voice.”

The DNR board in December scaled back the new state law on hunting and trapping in state parks, allowing these activities roughly two months of the year.

The results of the statewide ballot (PDF) distributed at the spring hearing, however, in which 2,922 people voted in favor of expanded hunting and fishing in state parks and 1,922 were opposed, suggest there could be a renewed push to revisit this issue.

The survey results will be discussed at the May convention of the Conservation Congress, which will then forward final positions to the DNR and its board.

Rob Bohmann, chair of the Conservation Congress, declined to speculate on how the body will vote. But Dan Schuller, director of state parks at the DNR, suggests in a statement that some longtime hunts in select parks could be reinstated. These are special seasons that fall outside the two-month window specified in the December 2012 DNR board ruling. “We are looking at some seasons that were previously approved by administrative rule,” says Schuller.

Lowry is incredulous that this issue might be reopened after more than 2,000 comments — most of them critical — were submitted to the DNR in response to its original proposal that would have allowed longer hunting and trapping seasons in state parks.

“For me it’s an issue of what kind of democracy we have here in Wisconsin,” she says. “Generally majority rules,” she adds. A 2010 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service survey found that 17% of Wisconsin residents had hunted in the last year.

Melissa Smith has been an active opponent of Wisconsin’s new wolf hunting season, but she says she is not opposed to “ethical hunting.” Lowry, too, says there is a difference between a traditional hunt and one where animals have been corralled and trapped by dogs. “It gets away from hunting and becomes something much more disturbing and inhumane to animals. This is the pleasure of killing for killing.”

But Bohmann, who has been hunting since he was five, defends the use of dogs in hunting.

“My son harvested a bear with the aid of hounds,” he says. “These hunters are not barbaric.”

He himself hunts with a Labrador retriever and says he has spent thousands of dollars on the dog’s training and vet care. One of the best parts of the hunt, he says, is “watching our dogs do what they were trained to do.”

His family also eats everything it kills, he says. “We don’t go overboard.”

Lowry and Smith would like to steer the conservation conversation away from hunting, trapping and fishing. Almost every one of the questions put to the public at the Conservation Congress meeting had to do with killing animals, says Lowry.

“I didn’t see anything about expanding public lands for hiking. I didn’t see anything for biking trails.”

Smith points out that one of the questions asked whether willow stakes, usually protected on DNR-managed land, could be cut since they are often used by trappers to mark and anchor traps.

“Can we talk about wetlands rather than pulling willows for trapping?” she asks.

Bohmann says that the Congress has recently formed an environmental study committee, but that hunting, fishing and trapping have to be part of the discussion since wildlife can destroy habitat.

“We have a responsibility to manage habitat in our state parks,” he says. “But we have an equal responsibility to manage wildlife populations.”

Hunting critics want a say in Wisconsin’s wildlife management – Isthmus | The Daily Page.

Charles Talbert: Who defines ‘outdoor skills’? : Wsj

As reported in Thursday’s State Journal, the Wisconsin Conservation Congress — made up mostly of hunters and trappers — wants to turn the MacKenzie Environmental Education Center into a training facility for hunters and trappers.

This is understandable. Their shrinking numbers desire institutional legitimacy for their self-described “outdoor skills.” By recruiting school children, they want to counter the public’s growing realization that what in frontier days was a violent necessity is today just a cruel pastime.

Less clear is why the Department of Natural Resources promotes this distorted view of what constitutes “outdoor skills.” Most Wisconsinites, including the taxpayers who support the DNR, do not need to spill blood on wildlife lands to enjoy them.

Charles Talbert, Monona

Charles Talbert: Who defines ‘outdoor skills’? : Wsj.

Friends of Mackenzie and WWF Oppose DNR Killing School

Friends of MacKenzie and the WWF Oppose DNR Decision to End Environmental Education for School Children at MacKenzie

Poynette: Today the Friends of MacKenzie and the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation sent a letter to DNR Secretary Stepp, requesting DNR halt DNR plans to end school-based Environmental Education at the MacKenzie Environmental Center in Poynette, Wisconsin. The Center has provided Environmental Education to hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin school children since it was opened in the mid-1970s. Since 2006, the Center has been run by the WWF and the Friends under a contract from the DNR.   The Center provides environmental education opportunities to 16,000 students a year, the highest number of any of the Environmental Education Centers owned by the DNR and at the lowest per student cost of any of the DNR centers. The net cost for DNR to have the WWF and the Friends operate MacKenzie annually is $185,000 a year out of DNR’s annual budget of five hundred million dollars. The Center is being operated under a no-cost increase ten year contract.   The DNR is proposing to use MacKenzie as a training center for hunting, fishing and trapping skills for youth and novice hunters, anglers and trappers. The Friends and the WWF support the use of MacKenzie for these purposes but have indicated that the school-based environmental education programs being offered at MacKenzie take place when the facility would not be used for hunting, fishing and trapping based skills training. MacKenzie could be optimized for educational purposes by having both environmental education and skills based training taking place at the facility.   Besides this major change in use, DNR has informed the Friends and WWF that there will be major changes in buildings and structures at MacKenzie including the construction of a shooting range. Under DNR regulations and policies, such dramatic changes necessitate the development of a Master Plan for the property including significant public involvement including public hearings in the community. DNR has not done a Master Plan for MacKenzie and has had no public input for the proposed changes. The Friends and the WWF have called on DNR to at least continue school-based Environmental Education at MacKenzie until the results of the Master Plan are completed.

Group Leader Resources / MacKenzie Environmental Education Center.

DNR plans to turn wildlife field trip destination into hunting and fishing training center : Wsj

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wants to transform an environmental education center in Poynette into a hunting and fishing training center, complete with shooting range, the agency announced this week.

The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, which runs the MacKenzie Environmental Education Center with the DNR, said the changes would mean an end to the popular field trip destination known for its native Wisconsin animal exhibit, annual maple sugar festival and environmental education programs that drew about 16,000 Wisconsin students last year.

George Meyer, the federation’s executive director, said he learned Monday the DNR will end the group’s contract in August. Instead the agency will ask nonprofit and commercial groups to apply to manage the property and run hunting, fishing and trapping education programs there. Groups would have to fund the programming without state money and build a small shooting range for training.

“As we take a look at our statewide education plan, one of the things that was noticeably missing was the outdoors skills education center,” said Kurt Thiede, DNR land division administrator.

The change at MacKenzie, according to DNR officials, would be a way to reduce costs and create what the agency called a “first-of-its-kind” outdoor skills recruitment and retention center. Thiede said the state has been paying about $280,000 annually to run the center.

“We don’t see this as a big change other than the fact that we’re adding to the offerings at MacKenzie and we’re trying to do it in a sustainable way,” Thiede said.

Thiede said that any group chosen to run the center would have to offer environmental education as well as hunting education.

“It is that the primary focus would now be on promoting outdoor skills,” Thiede said.

Popular for school field trips

MacKenzie, which opened in the mid-1970s, has been a popular and low-cost field trip destination for area schools and is designed as a self-guided facility. Teachers are given literature before they arrive and can guide their class through the museum and trails. Dorms allow students to stay overnight.

“We would be devastated if .. the education and overnight opportunity disappeared,” said Mark Smith, seventh-grade teacher at Patrick Marsh Middle School in Sun Prairie. “(Students) get to have this amazing sleepover that’s basically integrated with all these learning opportunities outside. We have students who have never made a s’more before.”

For the past six years, the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation and a friends group have run the center, where 22 species of live native Wisconsin animals are on exhibit.

“It’s one of two native live animal exhibits in the state of Wisconsin,” Meyer said. “That’s what makes it really unique.”

Meyer said the federation supports the outdoor skills training and would be willing to work with the state on a program held on weekends and during the summer, because it wouldn’t interfere with the current school-based environmental programming during the school year.

In a letter to the DNR this week, the federation and Friends of MacKenzie organization requested the agency reinstate the contract to operate the center until “a completed planning process with a robust community, school and stakeholder public input process and the education aspects of that new plan are up and running at MacKenzie.”

Thiede encouraged the federation to submit their own proposal for the outdoor skills center to be considered for a new contract.

From hidden gem to destination spot?

The DNR has struggled for years on how to best fund the center, Thiede said.

And while visitation has been good at MacKenzie, “we haven’t seen a great increase over time,” Thiede said.

“While hidden gems are great, what we really want to try to focus on is making MacKenzie a destination,” Thiede said, adding he hopes programs like the popular Maple Sugar Festival, which features a pancake breakfast and provides a history of maple sugaring in Wisconsin, continue.

Neil Bishop, president of the Friends of MacKenzie group that helps the wildlife federation run the center, worries what will happen if the DNR changes its focus from environmental education. He envisions the Maple Sugar Festival disappearing.

“We’re all extremely disappointed that they’ve decided to take this action,” he said.

Bishop also is concerned about what will happen to the wildlife exhibits, which include a mountain lion, grey wolf and bald eagle.

Thiede said the animals would be “cared for” however what that would mean — be it care at the current facility or somewhere else — is uncertain.

Rob Bohmann, chairman of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, supports the change at MacKenzie.

“The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation has done an outstanding job promoting general outdoor education at the MacKenzie Center over the years, but we see a tremendous amount of value for conservation in this new opportunity to concentrate educational efforts on outdoor skills related to hunting, fishing and trapping,” he said in a news release.

DNR plans to turn wildlife field trip destination into hunting and fishing training center : Wsj.

Weekly News Article – Grants awarded to help Wisconsin municipalities deal with nuisance wildlife – Wisconsin DNR

Why no grants for municipalities to find humane alternatives?

Kill. Kill. Kill.


The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources provides 50 percent matching reimbursement grants up to a maximum of $5,000 to communities to help them manage wildlife conflicts. All of the State fiscal year 2013 grant funds, totaling $24,700, have been awarded. Grant recipients and amounts awarded include:

  • City Of Brookfield, $5,000 for annual aerial deer survey to monitor wildlife populations and establish population estimates. Deer population reduction by sharpshooting and trapping operations.

  • Village Of Elm Grove, Waukesha County, $487 to monitor deer and Canada geese populations and establish population estimates. Remove deer by use of sharpshooters. Remove resident Canada geese by approved methods and in compliance with US Fish & Wildlife permit. Process, distribute or dispose of geese and deer to a charitable organization.

  • Milwaukee County Parks, $5,000 to monitor deer populations and establish population estimates. Remove deer using sharpshooters. Process deer and distribute to local food pantries.

  • City Of Muskego, $2,500 to remove resident Canada geese. Perform required health and tissue sampling. Process, distribute or dispose of geese to a charitable organization.

  • City Of Wisconsin Rapids, $1,713 to implement managed deer hunts; process and distribute to charitable organization(s).

  • City Of Oshkosh, $5,000 to monitor and establish deer population estimates. Remove deer using sharpshooters. Remove resident Canada geese.

  • City Of Sheboygan, $5,000 to develop an urban wildlife (deer) population control plan. Monitor deer populations and establish population estimates. Remove deer using sharpshooters.

Weekly News Article – Grants awarded to help Wisconsin municipalities deal with nuisance wildlife – Wisconsin DNR.