Man who hates public land and public wildlife gains heavy influence on Wisconsin deer management-

A last minute controversy in the unpleasant battle in Wisconsin whether to remove governor Scott Walker from office is the revelation that he has hired Dr. James Kroll, who embodies the Texas tradition that hunting should be on game farms and an activity for those with money.  Public wildlife, held in trust by the state and managed by a state agency, is according to Kroll, “Communism.” So are public lands like state and national forests, parks, wildlife refuges, etc.

If this is Communism, then wildlife are communists.  Wildlife means free ranging animals. Inasmuch as they are enclosed, they are not wild. They are livestock.

This should be good campaign ammunition for those who want to remove Walker because there is little mass support for abolishing common open space and free roaming animals to create something like the private forest of a European baron.  The National Rifle Association is trying to make this a guns issue instead of an access/money issue by saying Walker’s opponent once supported banning some kinds of guns that could be used to hunt with.

Wisconsin is struggling with chronic wasting disease in its deer. It probably arrived in the state by transport of infected animals from game farms. Game farm hunting is not likely to be a sustainable economic model unless hunters enjoy shooting ugly diseased animals.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

23 Responses to Wisconsin governor hires “deer czar” to save deer and hunters from Communism

  1. avatar Ryan says:

    So just out of curiosity, how does this article out weigh in importance to say the articla and webpage blocking the dam on upper Susitna?

    Atleast on that one people can sign up for and post comments to the FERC and actually run a chance of making a difference and saving a large ecosystem.

    It seems as though the wildlife news is becoming more Extra and National enquirer than NPR and New York times.
    Its been a sad journey to watch.

    • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

      Ryan,

      I guess you can ask that kind of question about any news medium — about the mix of stories they have. I think the issue of privatization of wildlife is critical, and the elections this year are going to have a big influence on the issue. There will be more.

      We also need people who are able (have significant knowledge) to write about an issue like the dam on the upper Susitna. Yesterday, George Wuerthner wrote an incredible piece on logging at Seeley Lake, Montana. To those outside the area though, it might not seem important. Were it not for Wuerthner we would not have written about it, but he has the issue down cold. Otherwise, we don’t have a great level of knowledge about the upper Swan area, and some folks would say “isn’t something else more important?”

      Maybe you want to write a piece for the Wildlife News, Ryan? We are interested in expanding the number of authors.

    • avatar Ryan says:

      Thanks for the offer, after this election season I will start writing again. We are working on a very important to me initiative this year in Oregon to end gill netting on the columbia.

      I like articles that are black and white in nature and allow the reader to make an their own opinion. Artciles that sensationalize and issue and have a heavy leaning left or right:

      1. Oppose the readers view points on other issue and at that point the reader becomes unwilling to glean the valuable information.

      2. Incite the Ra ra ra mob mentality and once again cognitive thought is lost and the division continues.

      I guess my point is by continuing to post these articles where there is little room for opinions or discussion little intelectual growth will occur.

      • avatar jdubya says:

        You like are articles that are black and white? Since when is anything of consequence (other than maybe your opinion of Hitler) either black or white, and not shades of grey in between? To think otherwise seems to me remarkably naive.

        The Wisconsin piece is only part of a much larger picture where more and more “conservationists” seek to conserve by setting up real or virtual game farms (on private and public lands) and allowing the rich to kill at will.

      • avatar Ryan says:

        Jdubya,

        Take off your tinfoil hat and broaden your horizons. Game ranches, massive amounts of auction tags, excessive LOP tag, etc are issues many western hunting groups fight tooth and nail against. Look no further than the recent battle in AZ over additional auction tags for SFW.

        “You like are articles that are black and white? Since when is anything of consequence (other than maybe your opinion of Hitler) either black or white, and not shades of grey in between? To think otherwise seems to me remarkably naive.”

        Perhaps black or white is not right term. I guess Op ed pieces vs news pieces would be a better descriptor.

        My point was, its pretty easy to spot an a bad deal without someone one telling what to think. Instead articles that have been posted as of late seem to be sensationalized so that readers like you, mike, and Mikarooni can get all riled up. But it alienates anyone in the middle, who could learn from the information passed along because they can’t get past the hard nosed extremeist, self righteous bullshit.

        • avatar jdubya says:

          It would appear that you are the one wanting to get people riled up. Why don’t you do as requested and submit your own stories and then you can be the center of attention you seem to crave.

      • avatar JB says:

        Ryan:

        I am with you on the desire to not polarize people who ultimately have a lot in common (i.e., wildlife/habitat conservation). On the other hand, Kroll has made no secret of his disdain for the NAM and public resources–communism isn’t Ralph’s word, it is Kroll’s.

      • avatar Ryan says:

        JB,

        No argument here, Kroll is a grade A POS. My point is that there is alot of information that could be given to guys like me, who hunt etc and are very involved in habitat issues could take in, but won’t due to how the information is given and other polarizing issues.

        Oregon wild drops with wolf issue and they will get my money. ODNA will get some of my money this year becuase they keep out of it.

        Hunters would fight ranchers tooth and nail on public land entitlements, game population control, etc (look at how MO’s are set not on carrying capacity, but on farming and ranching impacts) but for 99% of them to toss in their hat with many of the people who post on this board would be to distasteful to handle.

        Put the wolf issue/predator issues on the side and a lot more good could happen IMHO.

        • avatar DLB says:

          “Hunters would fight ranchers tooth and nail on public land entitlements, game population control, etc (look at how MO’s are set not on carrying capacity, but on farming and ranching impacts) but for 99% of them to toss in their hat with many of the people who post on this board would be to distasteful to handle.”

          I’ve often wondered whether that’s true or not. A large number of hunters live in rural areas and obviously value their hunting opportunities, but it seems to me that many are loth to openly voice negative opinions about the activities of ranchers/farmers/loggers. Maybe it’s discomfort with being pitted against folks who many hunters call neigbhors?

          Out of curiosity, I’ve read through a number of hunting related blogs, and most of the criticism towards ranchers is confined to access issues, as opposed to habitat degredation.

          I do agree that if hunters/other conservationists could come together on just basic issues like habitat preservation, habitat acquisition, conservation easements, etc., a lot could be accomplished.

          Some environmentalists just like to take pot-shots at hunters though, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Just look at how a poaching thread can draw hundreds of comments, but a thread announcinga major WWP legal victory often-times gets less than a dozen.

        • avatar JB says:

          Today I ran into a retired program director from the DNR while on site for a meeting and, without my prompting, he opined that (and I’m paraphrasing) ‘we’re going to need everyone interested in wildlife together to do what’s needed in the coming decades’. This is a guy who spent his entire career managing fisheries.

          I couldn’t agree more. Habitat is threatened by a variety of factors–from exurbanization and development, to land conversion to agriculture–and the erosion of the base of concerned citizens (i.e., hunters and anglers) is directly and negatively impacting wildlife conservation programs.

          We need to come together, folks. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

  2. avatar Ryan says:

    http://www.lodivalleynews.com/human-interest/public-game-management-is-the-last-bastion-of-communism-dr-james-kroll-walker-appointed-deer-trustee/

    BTW, Kroll is an grade A ass hole.. He’d get run out on a rail in any state north of the mason dixon and west of the missippi.

    • avatar Ryan says:

      But he is no different than Ingrid Newkirk, Wayen Pacelle, Don Peay, or Ted Nuget.

      Just another extremeist.

  3. avatar Mike says:

    This isn’t even worth commenting on.

    Let’s just say I’m thrilled hunter numbers are plummeting. No offense to the few ethical hunters, but this is the place these idiots come from.

    Something about trudging around the woods with a gun increases your odds of being incredibly stupid.

  4. avatar Sawtoothian says:

    So Kroll is basically about creating domesticated herds that are manipulated and modified to meet human consumption.

    Sounds like something else that I am trying to think of… OHH I KNOW, just like cattle ranching! Doh.

  5. avatar SEAK Mossback says:

    In some ways, I see guys like this as a positive thing. The way conservatism has been increasingly operating in the nation is in requiring identity purity by inducing those would are initially attracted for one or two reasons to sign on whole heartedly to the entire package of positions. And if you can sit them regularly and long enough in front of the right TV and radio programs, they eventually tend to buy it all and begin to view as suspect those who still differ on one or two points. Their circle of friends narrows and becomes more “pure”. The initial hook for people who hunt has often been gun control, and the NRA keeps trying to set that hook deeper and in more fish, most recently by going so far as to characterize as a gun control conspiracy the fact that the Obama administration has thus far taken no action in that direction. And, there are lots of people lathered up enough about the issue to buy that and use it as one of their anchors. However, I think there is a limit. There was eventually for Joe McCarthy. The more they begin to try to push people into handing over things they hold dear, like public land (whether for hunting or any other enjoyment) or public schools, or federal retirement benefits they have paid into all their lives or any number of things — the quicker their star will fall. Hunting in Wisconsin is still a very strong tradition involving a lot of people and much of it happens on public land, so this is as good a place as any to have this guy peddling his poisonous brand of snake oil and calling public-land hunters communists.

  6. avatar ma'iingan says:

    Love him or hate him, Dr. Kroll delivered the referenced remarks back in 2002, in an interview in a Texas magazine that he claimed was “tongue in cheek”. The comments have been taken completely out of context for use in the current political uproar in Wisconsin.

    Actually his message to Wisconsin landowners and DNR was that they need to cooperate in providing more hunting opportunity on private land, where the majority of deer reside.

    Kroll’s connection to the highly controversial Wisconsin governor has grown this story way out of proportion. The good doctor was received a bit skeptically by Wisconsin hunters, who gave a lot more credence to Dr. Gary Alt, who worked with Kroll on the project, and who has extensive public land deer management experience from Pennsylvania.

    • avatar mikarooni says:

      Malingerin, first point, how many times over the past 10 or 15 years have lunatic fringe right-wingers said something outrageous for consumption by their rabid base or said something at what they thought was a private affair and then, when they got called on it, they tried to dismiss it as “tongue-in-cheek” or misquoted or taken out of context? Hint: the answer is plenty of times and the truth is that they pretty much always actually meant what they said.

      Second point, one of the most important skills required of a public official is to know how to speak in the public arena and how not to speak in the public arena. This “interview in a Texas magazine” as you, yourself, put it seems to indicate that Dr. Kroll has some weakness with regard to his capability in this all important area. Given the current job market and the attractiveness of the job he’s been awarded by the current political regime in Wisconsin, I would think Wisconsin could easily have done much better.

      As an extension of the same point, how are you suddenly empowered to now interpret for us all what really was or was not actually “his message to Wisconsin landowners” and why does a man in his position need you to interpret what he says.

      Third point, Wisconsin was once a quite prestigious state, with a well-educated population, many nice communities, and several outstanding universities. Why in the world would the great State of Wisconsin, with its own many, many, many homegrown and highly educated wildlife professionals, need to import someone from a place like Texas to tell it how to manage deer? Last time I was there, Wisconsin had many deer, many very knowledgeable deer experts, and was quite familiar with deer and their characteristics, without any need for advice from anyone from Texas. For that matter, if Dr. Kroll is such a prize, why didn’t Texas keep him? It’s not that Texas isn’t in need of some deer management down there. Frankly sounds like some sort of reverse carpetbagger to me. The same questions apply to Dr. Kroll’s sidekick from Pennsylvania. Why does the great State of Wisconsin need to import anybody from either Texas or Pennsylvania to tell them how to manage deer? Is it your position or the position of the current political regime in Wisconsin, that the great State of Wisconsin does not have anybody there who knows how to manage Wisconsin deer?

      This whole thing stinks as far as I can tell.

      • avatar ma'iingan says:

        “…how many times over the past 10 or 15 years have lunatic fringe right-wingers said something outrageous for consumption by their rabid base…”

        And the media never blows out-of-context comments out of proportion, right? This “expose” was launched with purely political motives – Kroll’s Wisconsin report, although arguably flawed, had nothing to do with privatization of hunting opportunities.

        “…how are you suddenly empowered to now interpret for us all what really was or was not actually “his message to Wisconsin landowners”…?”

        I was present, representing my agency, at two of Dr. Kroll’s public forums – and I have his written preliminary report here at my desk.

        “Why in the world would the great State of Wisconsin, with its own many, many, many homegrown and highly educated wildlife professionals, need to import someone from a place like Texas to tell it how to manage deer?”

        That would be a question best posed to Governor Walker, who hired Dr. Kroll directly, with no involvment from WDNR.

        “For that matter, if Dr. Kroll is such a prize, why didn’t Texas keep him?”

        This was a 3-month project, not a permanent hire – Dr. Kroll maintains his professorship at Stephen F. Austin University in Texas.

        “This whole thing stinks as far as I can tell.”

        No disagreement from me, or from anyone else in WDNR wildlife management – but you might try gathering some facts before the knee jerk.

        • avatar mikarooni says:

          “That would be a question best posed to Governor Walker, who hired Dr. Kroll directly, with no involvment from WDNR.”

          Thank you. That’s exactly what I wanted to get out on the table, that at a time when the people of Wisconsin, including many very fine wildlife professionals who could have served in this capacity, are in need of their tax dollars being used to support them and their families, Walker went out and spent those dollars to stage a political freak show imported from Texas. I’m sorry I ended up using my “knee” to get it out there; but, there seemed to be too much talking around the truth.

          In these times, Dr. Kroll should have the courtesy to busy himself in Texas, on a Texas payroll, and Governor Walker should focus Wisconsin expenditures on the needs of the people of Wisconsin, at least as long as he’s still in his current position.

          • avatar ma'iingan says:

            “…when the people of Wisconsin, including many very fine wildlife professionals who could have served in this capacity, are in need of their tax dollars being used to support them and their families,…”

            Not taxpayer dollars – Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration funds paid for the project. But to your point, they could’ve been better used elsewhere.

            • avatar JB says:

              Not to nitpick, but this comment deserves clarification. Pittman-Robertson funds are paid by tax-payers (specifically, an excise tax on firearms and other hunting equipment).

              —-

              I read Kroll’s report (the executive summary anyway) and found it largely complementary to the Wisconsin DNR. Seems like a whole lot of cash and effort without much to show for it?

              I’ve also read the article where he referred to state-controlled wildlife management is communism. If it was made tongue-in-cheek, I admit that I missed it.

    • avatar SEAK Mossback says:

      I should clarify that my comments were directed strongly at philosophy against public land, and not necessarily against what he might propose as specific deer management recommendations. While I have been only minimally exposed to some of the ideas behind quality deer management (from reading a little and talking with one Minnesota land-owner who was trying to implement it), I find them somewhat refreshing (and by that I am stopping way short of captive breeding for antler growth, which I think falls more in the realm of captive herds).

      Basically, as I understand it, much of quality deer management is really about getting closer to what would be found in a system regulated more by natural predators. Don’t try to stock-pile does and shoot all the bucks of any age. Reduce density for better nutrition, etc. These are things that seem difficult to get across to the hunting public, so many regions end up with insane management for many decades like California, where last I knew you could shoot any 2 bucks of fork-horn or larger (larger ones are few because of the hunting pressure) and all females have been off-limits virtually forever. So, they have a very large deer herd with all the attendant crop damage and vehicle collisions, but only a small part of it is available to hunters.

      And still, people go straight up a wall about any proposals to change it (I seem to remember reading about Dr. Alt taking a lot of heat for his ideas even in Pennsylvania). Many hunters don’t seem to be able to grasp that shooting a doe is not killing a golden goose, that more deer is not better, and that the population size that produces the most surplus for harvest is much smaller than the number an area can support — and that if you protect does and take only bucks, the number of does will increase and reduce the number and size of bucks, so hunters will take no does and fewer and smaller bucks. So, if that’s what these guys are addressing, I wish them luck. I just think public land should get at least as much of their consideration, although I realize it may be more difficult to manage than private acreage where an educated land-owner has more control of variables.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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