Should Wisconsin DNR's top administrators buy conservation patron license?

Tim Eisele     The DNR puts out a yearly news release encouraging outdoorsmen to buy a conservation patron’s license.  The reasons are many, but basically the conservation patron license combines the majority of hunting, trapping and fishing licenses and permit applications.

     The theory is that people buy their licenses all at one time and they become “patrons” of natural resources in the state.  It has been something that the DNR has promoted for many years, and encourages people to purchase as a way of contributing (even if they didn’t need a license that came in the patron package) to the management, research and enforcement of natural resources in the state.

     In a DNR brochure put out to hunters, trappers and anglers the question of “Why become a patron?” is answered by the DNR:

·        It saves money.  People get all of their basic fishing, trapping and hunting privileges at a great price.

·        It saves time.  Only one purchase is necessary.

·        It helps conserve natural resources.  The purchase supports all of Wisconsin’s fish and wildlife programs, including habitat management and research.

The cost for residents is $165 and for a nonresident is $600.  When most people buy their license in the spring of the year, in advance of the inland fishing season or turkey season, the DNR has that money in their account earlier in the year.

     Since the DNR asks sportsmen to consider buying a patron license (which this writer does and also makes a voluntary contribution into the fish and wildlife account when buying it each year), should that also apply to the top leaders of DNR?  Do they set an example by purchasing the patron license?

     A request to the DNR showed that only one of the top three officials in the secretary’s office buys a [atron license.  Scott Gunderson, DNR executive assistant secretary, does buy a patron license. DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp and Deputy Secretary Matt Maroney do not.

     To give some idea of salary, in 2011 Stepp made $117,861, according to Department of Administration figures, Maroney $104,660, and Gunderson $101,833.

     Most of those who have come up through the ranks of the DNR and lead areas supported by license receipts do buy the patron license, including Kurt Thiede, Tim Lawhern, Jack Sullivan, Mike Staggs, Steve Miller, and Tom Hauge.

     Perhaps people buy licenses as they need them, but if the agency is promoting having outdoorsmen buy a patron license, those who come into appointed positions from outside the agency might consider whether it could be viewed as a “do as I say, not as I do” situation when they don’t go out and buy a patron license.

     It may not be a big thing in the eyes of some, but just as an employee of General Motors wouldn’t be caught driving a Toyota or an ecologist who promotes native vegetation wouldn’t own a garden filled with buckthorn, what people in top leadership positions say and what they actually do should make a difference to the public.

The resident conservation patron license costs $165 and includes:

  • Annual Fishing License;
  • Great Lakes Trout & Salmon Stamp;
  • Inland Trout Stamp;
  • The Inland and Wis./Mich. Border Sturgeon Hook & Line Licenses;
  • Small Game License;
  • Pheasant Stamp;
  • Gun-Deer Hunting License;
  • Archery License;
  • Trapping License (with necessary requirements);
  • Otter Application;
  • Fisher Application;
  • Spring Turkey Application;
  • Spring Turkey License (with awarded permit);
  • Turkey Stamp;
  • Fall Turkey Application;
  • Fall Turkey License (with awarded permit);
  • Early Goose Permit;
  • Exterior Goose Permit or Horicon Goose Application;
  • State Waterfowl Stamp;
  • Annual Park Sticker;
  • Annual State Parks Trail Pass;
  • Admission to Heritage Hill State Historical Park; and,
  • A subscription to Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine.
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