Sometimes Scott Walker is just plain weird.
A czar too far
Cartoonist Richard Guindon once poked fun at the Badger State with a panel titled “Wisconsin: beer, cheese and a few weirdos.”
That was three decades ago, but some truths endure. After all, we recently elected a U.S. senator who denies that humans have anything to do with climate change, putting him at odds with the overwhelming majority of the world’s climate scientists. But people can change. Maybe Wisconsin’s “plastic man” will take the time to sit down with some scientists and listen to them. But don’t bet on it.
Not to be outdone on the weirdness scale, Governor-elect Scott “great white hunter” Walker, who was unable to make it through college, proclaimed himself smarter than the wildlife biologists who oversee Wisconsin’s deer herd. Pandering for the votes of tens of thousands of other deer “experts” who issue regular reports from tavern stools across the state, Walker said he would appoint a deer czar. The czar would report directly to him. That suggests the deer czar would be as powerful as the DNR secretary, at least when it comes to whitetails.
The deer czar would be “an outside independent expert to revise our deer counting system.” This, according to Walker, is “taking the politics out of the woods and putting the deer back in.”
How do people get away with saying things like this? Anyway, given the long, storied and cantankerous history of deer management, good luck deer czar.
This deer czar idea is, well, right out of a Guindon cartoon panel. If nothing else, Walker promises to be entertaining.
Facts don’t seem to matter much anymore. Here are a few real numbers from the past couple of years: Preliminary estimates show hunters killed 218,144 deer during the traditional nine-day gun season this year, an 11 percent increase from 2009, the year when some hunters had conniptions because of the low kill during the traditional hunt. Despite all the whining about the 2009 kill, when all the numbers were added up Wisconsin hunters registered nearly 330,000 deer in 2009, including the gun hunt, special seasons, and 41,402 bucks during the archery season. That, notes outdoors writer Pat Durkin, was the fourth largest buck kill by bow hunters in state.
Walker and the barstool experts also neglected or, worse, didn’t notice, one other fact: The majority of Wisconsin’s corn crop was still standing in the field in November 2009 because it was too wet to harvest. What deer with half a mind would leave a comfortable bedding spot in a field full of corn when shotguns and rifles start going off? This year, the harvest was all but complete by the time hunters headed out.
Of course, many hunters in Wisconsin have forgotten the days of not too long ago, when a deer per year was only a dream. Today, many believe it is a right, not a privilege, to shoot a deer on the opening Saturday and have it dressed out and ready for processing before the Badgers play at 11 a.m. Never mind the havoc an oversized herd plays on everything from highways to biodiversity in our forests.
Nonetheless, based on Walker’s campaign promise to put deer back in the woods, he may have to enact some new policies in addition to appointing a deer czar. A few possibilities come to my mind:
• Extirpate every last wolf that dares to take a breath while on Wisconsin soil.
• Establish several “deer hatcheries,” privately operated, of course, so that tens of thousands of deer can be released a few weeks prior to the hunt. The costs could be covered by the elimination of all wildlife biologists in the DNR.
•Allow hunters to kill as many deer as they are able. Those with extras can then give deer to less-fortunate hunters.
Yes, these are weird ideas. But this is Wisconsin.
December 9, 2010
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Bill Berry is a FightingBob.com contributing editor who lives in Stevens Point and writes columns for the Capital Times and other publications.