Wisconsin's upcoming recall election for governor
Quite frankly, I’m sick of politics. I’m tired of the commercials, too. But, just because a person is tired of hearing about it, it doesn’t excuse one from paying attention. If you’re a sportsman or woman in Wisconsin, at least one of the major factors we consider when electing (or recalling) the next governor or official is how they plan to handle our hunting, fishing, trapping, and 2nd Amendment rights.
I requested answers to the following questions from Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Gov. Scott Walker ahead of the recall election on Tuesday, June 5. As you most likely know, Barrett won the Democratic primary for the privilege of challenging Walker in Tuesday's recall election. Barrett's camp responded first to my inquiries and said it would be "no problem" for the campaign to answer natural resources-related questions for this blog posting, but as of Friday, June 1, I had not yet received answers to the questions from Barrett. In the meantime, Walker did reply with his answers, so we posted those on Friday. Barrett's camp provided his response today, Monday, June 4, and we have now posted those answers below.
1) How would you "grade" Dr. Kroll's efforts so far and why?
Walker: “A” for spending time listening to hunters across the state at multiple town hall meetings.
“A” for raising concerns about the need to have a system driven by the hunters and advocates in the field and not a top-down style.
Incomplete for work because the final report is not due until the end of June but his preliminary report was very good. We wanted an independent review based on science and one that reflects the proud heritage of our state.
Barrett: I would send Scott Walker’s Deer Czar back to Texas. We need someone who knows Wisconsin outdoor traditions and heritage to manage our state’s deer population. Privatizing hunting, which has been Dr. Kroll’s life mission, is not in keeping with our state’s heritage and traditions, nor is it helpful to outdoor enthusiasts or our tourism economy. Wisconsin can’t afford someone who in the past has advocated making it more expensive for people to deer hunt. This approach would actually lead to fewer hunting opportunities and greater cost thrust upon the scores of hunters around the state – making it a “sport” for a few elite. In addition, many people, in rural areas especially, rely on deer hunting as a substantial nutritional resource for their families. Our hunting, fishing and outdoor heritage must not be up for sale.
2) Do you hunt, fish or trap and if so when is the last time you did so when it wasn't a political event?
Walker: Yes. I was out hunting around Crab Lake during deer season. I go fishing with some friends around the Town of Erin. I've never tried trapping.
Barrett: I went fishing last summer. I enjoy fishing and have fished on many family vacations. Our family also has spent quality time in Wisconsin’s great outdoors and state parks. It’s a fantastic way to bring the family together.
3) How did you get started in hunting or fishing?
Walker: I started fishing years ago as a Scout. I started hunting later in life with some pals – first, with a shotgun and then with a rifle. Now, I also do a bit of bow hunting.
Barrett: Growing up our family took trips to Little St. Germain Lake in Vilas County. In fact, I lost two pairs of glasses fishing on Little St. Germain Lake. And as a teenager I fished with John Gillespie, who would go on to become a noted angler and outdoors expert.
4) Share a moment you are truly proud of that helped sportsmen and women in Wisconsin.
Walker: I was proud to sign the Sporting Heritage Council legislation. I think it will help find new ways to promote our proud tradition of hunting, fishing and trapping in Wisconsin.
Barrett: As a member of the State Legislature, I stood proudly to protect and strengthen Wisconsin’s Stewardship Fund. I will bring this same commitment to the governor’s office.
5) Please state what you think needs changing in the Wisconsin DNR (Top one or two things)?
Walker Continue on the firm foundation we have laid for reforming the DNR. I designated the DNR Wisconsin’s first enterprise agency requiring them to improve customer service and business support as well as enhance its natural resources mission. For example, the agency is now contracting with 250 businesses to register boats, ATV and snowmobiles and increasing the over the counter service at DNR centers by 40 percent, making it much easier for sportsman to get out and enjoy Wisconsin’s natural resources. This is a stark contrast to before I took office when DNR facilities were closed and hunting and registration fees were increased.
Improving hunting experience and get more people involved who are out in the field.
Barrett: I believe we need to restore the independence and integrity of the DNR secretary. Future DNR secretaries should be appointed by the Department of Natural Resources Board. As conservationists and outdoor advocates across the state have warned, the Wisconsin DNR decision-making appears under the Walker Administration to be driven by politics instead of policy. This is unacceptable. It can only truly be resolved by putting our natural resources in the hands of an independently managed DNR.
6) Do you think that lands purchased with Stewardship funds should be accessible to hunting, fishing, and trapping when it is considered a safe, and compatible use?
Walker: Yes, and I signed 2011 Wisconsin Act 168 which requires that it be open unless it is determined by a majority of the Natural Resources Board determines that prohibiting one of these is necessary to protect public safety or a unique animal or pant community. My 2012 budget did not reduce the amount of money the DNR can borrow to pay for stewardship land purchases while making common sense changes to the program to ensure that only the best properties are acquired for preservation.
Barrett: When the use is safe and compatible, our state land should absolutely be accessible for people to enjoy. The bipartisan Nelson-Knowles Stewardship program was put in place to protect parks and critical habitat for current outdoorsmen and women, and future generations. It should also be easily accessible for the many Wisconsin families who rely on meat harvested from hunting as a main staple to feed their families. As governor, Scott Walker slashed this fund by more than 25 percent (from $86 million to $60 million). This is the funding to buy and conserve forever Wisconsin's parklands, and natural areas for hunting, fishing, and trapping. At the same time he gave tax breaks to wealthy corporations and superrich. As Wisconsin’s population grows and as its economy expands, Wisconsin more than ever needs to conserve our natural resources.
7) Please tell us briefly why YOU are the best man for the job for sportsmen and women in Wisconsin in fewer than 50 words?
Walker: As someone who goes hunting and fishing, I have first hand experience. More importantly, I spent time as a candidate and now as governor actually listening to sportsmen and women. I will continue to protect our heritage of hunting, fishing and trapping. I ask for your vote on Tuesday, June 5.
Barrett: No response.