Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Posted at 13h51 CT 15 June 2019 |
Another budget cycle in Wisconsin and more or less the same on Wisconsin's fight against CWD. The Wisconsin Legislature's Joint Finance Committee has again failed to capture any funding to fight the chronic wasting epidemic (CWD). This is a serious breach of the state's obligation to protect and conserve the valuable Wisconsin deer herd.
The most troubling part of the hunters' budget is probably the $ 100,000 allocation for deer farmers for "genetic testing". In other words, the money spent on cervid monitoring and testing for chronic wasting goes to deer farmers. Hunters, the money you pay for your permits goes to a for-profit deer farm so that the farm can try to extend the life of their deer. These same deer breeders are fighting to prevent their deer from escaping into the Wisconsin landscape, carrying diseases into the wild deer herd. These same deer farmers move deer from CWD farms to areas where no virus has been detected. These genetic tests will do nothing for the wild deer herd. Hunters, your legislators have taken money from you and handed it to these deer farmers. This $ 100,000 credit told us that the legislature valued the deer farmer much more than the Wisconsin hunter.
The legislator must be held responsible for this failure. In particular, those who want to be athletic, such as Senators Tom Tiffany, Duey Stroebel and Devin LeMahieu, must be held accountable for this depressing budget. All three senators call themselves sportsmen and all three sit on the Joint Committee on Finance. If you live in the districts of Senators Tiffany, Stroebel or LeMahieu, call them. Tell them you want action on the MDC. Tell them that you think the deer herd is important. Tell them you do not want to see the industry of deer hunting, a billion dollar in Wisconsin, die of a slow death. Tell them that if nothing is done about CWD, you will not vote for them. This is the only way for these politicians to listen.
Failure to attack the MDC is not limited to the legislature. Governor Evers has not fully addressed the problem of CWD in his budget. When he was a governor candidate, hunters and backcountry anglers had asked the Evers candidate to control the spread and reduce the prevalence of CWD. His answer was: make MDC tests easily accessible with a greater density of test sites for deer caught throughout the state; invest in more herd surveillance; act quickly and aggressively to limit satellite outbreaks when they occur and seek additional scientific research on the disease.
Too often, we lament politicians for saying one thing during a campaign and doing another after an election. In his budget proposal, the Governor proposed exactly zero new funding for the CWD. Zero. The governor promised specific CWD actions during the election campaign and broke that promise after his election. He must be held responsible. Call his office. Tell him you're upset and ask for an explanation.
It's fun to blame politicians, the DNR and deer farms. It feels good. But in reality, the main responsibility for damage caused by the MDC lies directly with the hunters. We have not done enough. We did not demand more from our politicians. I have met several lawmakers or their staff over the last few months. The most painful thing I've heard, is that virtually no conservation group was talking about the MDC. Hunters and backcountry fishermen were the only group mentioned that had put pressure on lawmakers in favor of an action in favor of the CWD. No other conservation group has talked about the CWD with any major members of the Joint Finance Committee. In addition, lawmakers had heard of the MDC from very few voters.
It is the fault of the hunting community not to be more vocal. We can not expect action on the CWD if we are not willing to claim it. If you are a member of a conservation group, call this group and ask him what he's doing about MDC. Demand that the conservation community come to Madison and discuss the MOC with elected officials. Nothing will be done to slow down or stop the MOC until the hunters community has risen and demanded it. Hunters, it's about us. Our current elected officials do not care about the CWD. Our job is to make them aware.
Jeff Guerard, Hunter
Guerard resides in Colgate, Wisconsin. This editorial represents his personal opinions and not those of the groups to which he belongs or which he represents.