Thursday, February 9th, 2023
Thursday, February 9th, 2023

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State Roundup: DNR secretary announces retirement

DNR SECRETARY PRESTON COLE ANNOUNCED HIS RETIREMENT last week after serving four years in that post. Gov. Tony Evers tabbed Cole as his DNR secretary in 2019. Cole retired Wednesday, Nov. 23. Evers will now have to choose a new DNR secretary. No doubt Evers already has someone in mind, but let’s take a minute to offer several suggestions of candidates Evers might consider if he’s still on the fence. My first suggestion is that Evers not – in no way, shape, or form – promote anyone
working in the DNR’s GEF II headquarters in Madison. The agency is
functioning, but it just does not seem to be doing so as efficiently as
it could be. Folks I polled who are familiar with the agency are
suggesting Evers go outside the agency for a new DNR secretary, without
exception – and that person does not work for the DNR in Madison.

I’m not going to have room here to list each candidate’s credentials. Some of the names might be familiar. Here goes, and in no particular order:
Peter Peshek, Tim Andryk, Paul DeLong, Kathleen Falk, Rep. Nick Milroy, Jeff Nania, and Dan Bauman. Peshek and Falk are duck hunting partners and worked in the former Wisconsin Public Intervenor’s Office. Andryk is a retired DNR lawyer who worked on many issues, including the treaty right cases. DeLong is the former DNR state forester. If Evers feels he
has to go with a Democrat, Milroy at has background in fisheries biology
and has made common sense decisions on natural resource issues in the
legislature. Bauman works for the DNR out of the Eau Claire office and
is well thought of by DNR field personnel. Nania has worked law
enforcement for the DNR and Dane County Sheriff’s Department. He has
served as Wisconsin Waterfowl Association executive director and has
worked on wetland restoration projects. These days Nania is writing good
mystery novels, so I think he’d have plenty of time to wade in as DNR

Our thanks to Cole for his four years as DNR secretary.

Best to him in his retirement.

****                       ****                       ****

being asked to report those den sites to local DNR wildlife biologists
to help out with a study on black bear reproduction. There also is a
link on the DNR website to report den locations. This study will begin
its next round of data collection this winter to help generate new
estimates of reproductive rates in each bear zone. Researchers are also
looking into any connection between human food sources and litter sizes.

“Public reporting is essential to this project. You don’t find bear dens every
day, so it is important that people report them,” said Dr. Jennifer
Price Tack, DNR large carnivore and elk research scientist. “Reporting
dens helps us meet the sample size requirements for our study.”

This past winter the team worked with landowners from Jackson County to Iron
County. They GPS-collared 13 sows, and hope to collar 100 sows over
seven years. The GPS collars reveal information about foraging behavior
and helps the team relocate the sows in subsequent winters.

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