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: