Turkey tag fiasco nets $90,000 for state youths

Madison – Turkey hunters were frustrated: They stood many hours
in line, and some even missed getting the time period or zone they
wanted when the state’s system of issuing leftover spring tags
crashed in 2008.

The DNR, which before the day of issuance assured people that
everything had been tested and should function normally, felt the
wrath of hunters and license vendors at the outset, but then
extracted a $90,000 damages payment from the data processor,
Central Bank, located in Missouri.

The DNR decided to put the money into efforts to recruit new
hunters through learn-to-hunt programs and a new youth expo.

Todd Schaller, chief of the education enforcement program in the
DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement, said he didn’t know how many new
hunters the effort would recruit, but the important part is to make
it easier for organizations to sponsor these programs.

“The thought is that this will bolster the program and increase
interest levels, while supporting the groups that have been doing
this in the past,” Schaller said.

The money will be used in three ways:

€ Reimbursement for learn-to-hunt events: The DNR will pay a $25
reimbursement to conservation clubs and groups for every new hunter
who attends learn-to-hunt events.

Schaller said the DNR tested the process with the bear program
the first weekend in September.

As other programs come along this fall for waterfowl, deer,
pheasants, squirrel, and other species, groups can receive $25 per
student on a first-come, first-served basis. The fund is capped at
$35,250.

Sponsors must apply, submit documentation on the event, and
cooperate with researchers in collecting information for short-term
and long-term evaluation of the program.

According to Schaller, in 2008 the learn-to-hunt programs
totaled:

€ Bear – 27 participants with one statewide event;

€ Waterfowl – 51 participants with four events;

€ Deer – 86 participants with eight events;

€ Pheasant – 182 participants with 19 events;

€ Squirrel – Three participants with one event;

€ Turkey – 549 participants with 31 events.

Turkey ‘starter kits’

Beginning next spring, many new hunters who attend a learn-
to-hunt program for turkeys will receive a Turkey Hunting Starter
Kit. These kits will include a turkey-hunting DVD, a turkey decoy,
a head net, and a call.

The DNR will spend $8,000 for the kit “ingredients,” which is
expected to provide about 150 kits. The kits won’t be available to
all of the new hunters; the DNR will follow up with research by the
UW-Stevens Point College of Natural Resources to determine if there
is a significant difference between students who received kits and
those who did not in participating in hunting during future years
after attending the initial program.

To begin a learn-to-hunt program, organizations should contact
their local DNR wildlife biologist or conservation warden.
Information also is available on the DNR web site.

The program is for kids or novice hunters, age 10 and older.

“The whole intent is to bring people in who have not had the
opportunity or who may never be hunters,” Schaller said.

Children who grow up in hunting families normally don’t use the
program because they experience hunting in the family setting and
learn by accompanying their parents. But those who grow up in a
single-parent family or family that has no history of hunting are
candidates for the program, Schaller said.

For information on learn-to-hunt programs, contact DNR program
coordinator Ben Mott at (608) 444-1244.

Wausau expo

The DNR will provide $5,000 to help organize the Central
Wisconsin Outdoor Education Expo in Wausau. For the past four
years, a Southern Wisconsin Outdoor Education Expo has been held in
Beaver Dam, which has drawn more than 17,500 students and teachers
from 2006 to 2009. The event is developed for fifth-graders and is
tied to Department of Public Instruction educational standards.

Teachers and students participate in the event, which offers a
blend of outdoor education. Activities are available on a variety
of outdoor topics including the importance of conserving natural
resources, a BB gun range, an archery range, fishing techniques,
wildlife habitat, trail recreation, hunting techniques, camping,
and recreational vehicle safety.

The Wausau event will be Monday, May 10 at Sunnyvale County
Park, located on 72nd Avenue.

The Southern Wisconsin Expo will be that Thursday and Friday,
May 13 -14, at the Dodge County Fairgrounds in Beaver Dam.

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