DNR Dropping Environmental Education for Children in Favor of Hunter/Trapper “Recruitment”

13 Feb

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Just when you thought the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources couldn’t get any lower the even go and stab one of their biggest supporters in the back. Of course not that I would ever shed a tear for George Meyer the head of the deceptively named hunting group the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, but it sure seems like the DNR threw him and his group under the bus here. The MacKenzie Environmental Education Center in Poynette, Wisconsin is a place that school children from around the state have visited for decades to learn about Wisconsin Wildlife. I visited there as a child in school, and several other times as an adult until Meyer’s group was handed the reigns in 2006. This week the DNR announced that the MacKenzie Center would no longer be used for enviormental education. Instead it will now be used as a location to aid in the “recruitment” of hunters and trappers. This is from the Portage Daily Register:

The focus will be on an outdoor skills training center for the recruitment and retention of hunters, anglers and trappers through mentorship, said Kurt Thiede, land division administrator for the Department of Natural Resources.

The proposed changes are happening for two reasons: security of funding and a change of focus, he said.

Since 2006, the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation and Friends of the MacKenzie Center have had a partnership agreement with the DNR. The agency was considering closing MacKenzie that year. The two nonprofit groups manage the center but it is owned by the DNR. The center is free to the public.

Kurt Thiede? Does that name ring a bell? Of course it does. He was the mouthpiece for last fall’s wolf slaughter in Wisconsin and the DNR’s loudest voice for the use of dogs against wolves. Apparently Meyer and his kill everything group isn’t “recruiting” enough hunters and trappers for the DNR so they a shifting focus.

The proposals by the DNR do not include school groups for environmental education or the need to maintain the wildlife exhibits, according to Meyer.

“The groups that are going to put on skills-based training are not going to be doing environmental education … They’re stating an objective to increase the number of hunters. The point we’re making is that you can do both here. We take 16,000 kids a year through the environmental education during school at a cost of $185,000,” he said. “The audience they’re trying to attract to increase shooting and trapping will have to take place on weekends and the summer because those individuals have school and work schedules.”

The Wisconsin DNR has finally decided to give up the façade that they care about “environmental education.” As most living wildlife advocates have known for a very long time the DNR only cares about hunters, trappers, hounders, and big business. There is no honor among thieves and this is evident by how Cathy Stepp and Kurt Thiede are even throwing their kill-everything ally, George Meyer, under the bus. While I always had concerns about the conditions in which some of the animals were kept, the place did provide some level of true education to those interested in learning about native wildlife. Of course also on the same grounds is a breeding program for non-native pheasants grown to be targets for shooters too lazy to “hunt” for true wildlife. Ironic, isn’t it? But that is another story. The DNR is so hell-bent on “recruiting” more killers of wildlife that they no longer wish to provide any educational opportunities for school children that do not involve killing. Do we need any more reasons why the DNR and wildlife “management” should be funded by anything other than the general fund? The DNR is desperate for money and the only way they can keep funding their killing programs is by “recruiting” more hunters and trappers. Let’s take this in perspective. School children are being taught how to kill wildlife in schools under a state program for credit, but the DNR will no longer provide non-killing field trips to the McKenzie Center for environmental education? They don’t want people to care about wildlife, they just want people to pay to kill it. I would be very interested to see who is behind this. Usually the DNR pander to Meyer and his kill-everything cabal, so this is huge. I wonder who is going to take over management of the McKenzie center? The Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association? The Hunters Rights Coalition? WI-FORCE? This proposal smacks of everything that was wrong with the wolf kill bill, and the year round killing in state parks law. And guess who was behind those laws?

There seems to be a national trend among some anti-wildlife/predator states to minimize the contributions of eco-tourism and wildlife watchers and cater exclusively to the hunter/trapper community. I am of the belief that just as with the war on wolves, this is another attack against “liberals” and “environmentalists” by the right wing politicians and anti-predator groups within these states. They just refuse to acknowledge that the money eco-tourism brings in far exceeds that of killing licenses. But that is where another facet of the issue lies. What funds the Wisconsin DNR and other state’s fish and wildlife department? Of course it is money from hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses. Wisconsin has long passed even the slighted hint of ethics and caring about conflicts of interest. I almost feel bad for George Meyer here. The key word is almost. Read more here:

Focus of MacKenzie Center to change drastically; DNR wants to use it for recruitment, retention of hunters, anglers, trappers


Posted by on February 13, 2013 in Hunting, Trapping, Wisconsin Insanity


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12 responses to “DNR Dropping Environmental Education for Children in Favor of Hunter/Trapper “Recruitment”

  1. cathy and bernie

    February 13, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    disgusting news

  2. L

    February 13, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    Unbelieveable. Will this Walker administration ever end????????

  3. Diane

    February 13, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    This news really ticks me off. To use children as a pawn for the DNR’s immoral agenda of serving as fund raisers to continue to perpetuate the cruelty & inhumanity of trapping & hunting defies basic civilized behavior. I am skeptical the general population may not be able to see through this latest DNR agenda as the act of deception & inhumanity it is. The DNR saturates the media with it’s spin on it’s latest press release under the guise of “We are the DNR” & we are here to help you; people just can’t seem to see through this.

  4. Terri Minnick

    February 14, 2013 at 6:37 am

    If we cannot start with children to respect wildlife there is NO hope for this state. I am ready to sell my house and move. Anybody know a state that respects that truly want to preserve and protect wildlife ?

  5. C

    February 14, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    a lot of changes have been made in the wildlife exhibit in recent years, if you haven’t been there recently you should check it out. some enclosures have been opened up to give animals more space (ex: foxes, otter), lots more climbing branches, hammocks, etc, improvements like the badger getting soil to tunnel in, that’s just what I can think of now. and if you get there at feeding time, you’ll see the animals get natural diets and different stuff every day. I know they also have lots of plans for improvements that it would be great if the Dnr would fund.

    also, the pheasant farm next door is state run and not the same entity as the MacKenzie Center at all

    • laina

      February 15, 2013 at 8:28 pm

      Thank you for that information. It’s good to know that.

  6. laina

    February 15, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    Who would have thunk it? The DNR makes George Meyer look good! They are burning their bridges on all fronts. We took our grandchildren to MacKenzie one spring and they really enjoyed it. The next year I decided to attend a different maple syrup festival after learning of WWFs true agenda at the wolf hearings. What will happen to the animals they have there? Let’s hope they don’t become classroom props. A special place where people go to learn how to hunt and trap. I thought you were supposed to learn that from your dad or grandpa. Now, class, pay close attention to this demonstration on how to crush the ribcage of this animal in the trap with your boot until it ceases to struggle or breathe.

    • rali74

      February 15, 2013 at 8:36 pm

      This state is going out of their way to alienate anyone who remotely cares about the environment or any wildlife other than deer. Meyer is the devil we know, the new DNR is even worse so that is saying a lot. Walker and his goons have made neighbor hate neighbor and seek to make life miserable for anyone who doesn’t share their agenda. The people of this state better wake up soon, or the damage will never be repaired.

  7. Dywane Brown

    February 15, 2013 at 10:53 pm

    Wait WTF?, I went there for overnight camping sessions as a kid and know it’s bing tuned into this POS? It’s safe to say the DNR is a “flagging” lying dirt mound that would do anything to get a few extra tips in their coffers.

  8. Brenda

    February 20, 2013 at 12:05 am

    Here is a model bill from ALEC that sounds very bad for environmentalists(still trying to track down if Wisconsin has passed anything similar …

    This is a link to many of their “model” bills on the environment..,_Air,_%26_Land

    This one sounds like what they are doing to the MacKenzie Center…
    29.036  Sporting heritage council.
    (1) The sporting heritage council shall study, and provide advice and make recommendations to the governor, the natural resources board, and the legislature about, issues relating to hunting, trapping, fishing, and other types of outdoor recreation activities including all of the following:
    (a) Ways to improve the recruitment and retention of hunters, trappers, and anglers.
    (b) Ways to improve the management and protection of the natural resources of this state for the purposes of hunting, trapping, fishing, and other types of outdoor recreation activities.
    (c) Ways to encourage youth to participate in outdoor recreation activities, including ways to implement outdoor recreation programs for youth.
    (d) Ways to improve access to public and private land for hunting, trapping, fishing, and other types of outdoor recreation activities.
    (e) Ways to improve public access to lakes.
    (f) Ways to increase the availability of public shooting ranges.
    (2) The sporting heritage council shall prepare a biennial report on the status of the recruitment and retention of hunters, trappers, and anglers in this state. The sporting heritage council shall submit its initial report under this subsection no later than July 1, 2014, and shall submit subsequent reports no later than July 1 of each even-numbered year thereafter, to the governor, to the chairperson of the natural resources board, and to the chief clerk of each house of the legislature, for distribution to the appropriate standing committees under s. 13.172 (3).
    History: 2011 a. 168.

    Here is a link to the page..

  9. Jon

    February 28, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    Hi everyone,

    Thanks for the opportunity to comment. Although I am not a member of “your group” (I know, I know, whatever that means), as a general rule, I would say that yours is a vital voice that needs to continue to be heard. That is why I check in from time to time to read up.

    I did want to comment on the MacKenzie situation (and I would second “C” [above] that you go check out that place—lotsa changes). Yes, George Meyer is not your guy—I get that. But do you understand that this move to privatize MacKenzie is a direct shot over his bow? They want him GONE! According to a report I heard, the DNR cancelled the contract at Mackenzie with no notice. In short, GTFO. They are pissed (probably ‘cuz he called them out last summer for their pollutin’ ways), and privatizing is a way to *keep* him out.

    I would like to pick up on Laina’s & Rali74’s [above] point. Why not reconsider how you see these groups? They are not a single monolithic entity. There is nuance there. It is slight, yes, but the outcomes of that slight difference are grand. Stepp, Thiede, & Co. at the DNR are Far Right politically. They have no time for a view such as yours. …but not Meyers, nor other Wisconsin Moderate’s like Luther Olsen or Dale Schultz’s either. These moderates at least allow for hunting mushrooms or gazing at the stars. That’s partly how they define the outdoors and “environmental education.” Stepp & Co. only see one as a consumer. If one cannot shoot the stars (notice I did not use “for the stars”), there is no point learning about them. They want to redefine environmental education *only* as hunting or fishing, only as a consumer of the outdoors. If it moves and you can’t blast it, they don’t want you out there. That is not the case with Meyer.

    “They enemy of my enemy is my friend” might be something to consider. For a time, at least…


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