Deer matter to the hunter, the farmer, the Tribes, the forester, to those who take to the road. Hunting can be apolitical, and already brings Wisconsin together. The ungulate population in Wisconsin should be supported scientifically by the DNR, and not become the headliner in a theme park-style hunting range. Selling the hunt results in tall fences and thinned out herds; a dangerous step backwards from decades of effort by conservationists. Selling the hunt means selling the beauty of Wisconsin. We must surpress today’s quiet privatization of hunting, and revive the DNR, as a steward of Wisconsin’s eye-filling grace.
The White-Tailed Deer in Wisconsin was nearly wiped out in 1910, and concerns led to the “Deer Project” in 1940, with support from the Citizen’s Deer Committee, and chaired by Wisconsin Conservationist, Aldo Leopold. This project’s mission was threefold: document deer life history and movements, document habitat conditions, while placing emphasis on winter range conditions. The Deer Project emphasized the importance of making specific compositions of Aspen, Oak, and grassy openings (from forest) for the benefit of the deer. This project led to what we now know as hunting “seasons” to reduce the herd. This extensive endeavor would not have succeeded without collective, science-based wildlife management.
The federal government has been essential in restoring Wisconsin’s wildlife. In 1937, the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (also known as P-R funding) was created as an investment. Taxes from this Act applied to ammunition, firearms, bows & arrows, and sporting goods manufacturers. Funding then became available for wildlife research, restoration, public shooting range development, and endangered wildlife and wildlife health monitoring. The Wild Turkey, Elk, and Fisher were all extirpated by 1921. The Gray Wolf was declared extirpated in 1960. Wire-trapped animals were brought in to replace the vanquished inhabitants, and eventually each of these species has regained their presence amidst our state. Proof exists that sound government oversight working in tandem with science can succeed when it comes to protecting the environment. Today’s agenda seems to be transforming the Badger State’s rich heritage of hunting into a privatized industry, with continuing disregard for the real experience and the natural environment. In today’s Wisconsin, who is the true predator and who is the actual prey?.