Wisconsin's NEW Deer Trustee AWOL for Deer Season

Posted by: Mike Willand
Nov 2011

If first impressions are viewed most important, then Wisconsin’s new $125,000 deer trustee Dr. James Kroll is off to a rocky start with many state deer hunters. Already through the first half of the 2011 gun season, a staple of the state’s deer hunting tradition, and the famed biologist is not even in the state. As a matter of fact, he’s off hunting another.

From a scientific standpoint, missing the gun season is nothing serious, but from the eyes of many of the deer hunters fed up with the last several years of DNR miscues, this is just another log to throw in the fire.

deer on back of truck

-Taken from the Eau Claire Leader Telegram, by Joe Knight.

Recently five Democratic legislators sent a letter to the governor - and the media-asking the governor to fire Kroll and hire a biologist from the University of Wisconsin system, who is familiar with deer management, for the job.

"We renew our call for Governor Walker to fire the unqualified deer czar James Kroll and hire a qualified Wisconsin expert," writes Rep. Brett Hulsey, D-Madison, in a recent news release. "Deer hunting is a cherished Wisconsin tradition. We don't need another $125,000 Walker crony who does not even show up to work during the deer season. Walker should create jobs for Wisconsinites, not Texans," Hulsey wrote..

The UW System has good biologists. The UW-Madison where Aldo Leopold pioneered wildlife management principals, and the UW-Stevens Point's resource programs have national reputations, but hunters and politicians have been ignoring homegrown biologists with the DNR and UW-system for years. The idea of having a deer trustee is to have a biologist with a fresh perspective take a look at the situation.

And, we haven't had a DNR deer management audit by outside biologists for nearly five years.

Hulsey cites the 2006 study: An Evaluation of the SAK Model as Applied in Wisconsin, in which out-of-state biologists concluded: "has the most comprehensive and transparent deer management program for comparable states that harvest white-tailed deer."

But is Kroll shirking his duty as deer trustee by missing the deer season?

From a science standpoint, no. He's supposed to be a big picture guy and analyze past trends and set a course for the future. Being here for this season - just a snapshot in time - really isn't important for a long-term analysis.

From a cultural standpoint, it would be nice for him to be around to visit with some hunters and biologists. Kroll comes from a background that emphasizes growing deer with big antlers on private deer farms. The Wisconsin hunt is complicated. It's a bit of hunting mixed with a social and cultural event. It may be about a youngster shooting his or her first deer, or a rural family securing some meat during hard economic times. For someone hunting on public land, a spike buck may be a trophy, and the hunt with family and friends may be more fun that paying big bucks to shoot big bucks on a Texas ranch.

It would be good for Kroll to see some of this first hand before he tells us what the problems are with Wisconsin deer management and what we need to do to fix it.

Wisconsin hunters are encouraged to give their opinion on this topic. Should Dr. Kroll have been in the state meeting with local deer hunters is this, his first gun season, as the new deer trustee?

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