“To represent the citizens of Wisconsin by working with the Natural Resources Board and the Department of Natural Resources to effectively manage Wisconsin’s greatest asset, our abundant natural resources, for present and future generations to enjoy.” — purpose of the Conservation Congress
There are no Conservation Congress committees on climate change, the disappearance of pollinators, white-nosed bat fungus, and humane education or the massive ongoing human-caused extinction. The hunters serve themselves with killing committees on big game, small game, trapping, bear hounding and hunting, and migratory birds.
The DNR and NRB have knowingly camouflaged what is supposed to be a general public advisory body, conspiring hand in bloody hand with the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation of rod and gun clubs. That collusion betrays the citizens of Wisconsin and their own mission statement.
Former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarek is an amateur compared to the Wisconsin DNR in killing expertise and dismantling of democracy. He only got away with it for 30 years. The DNR has been at it 77 years and counting.
On behalf of the citizens of Wisconsin, Madravenspeak is submitting the following citizen questionnaire to the Natural Resources Board, requesting a response to share with readers of this column at the end of May:
1. Over the past decade, the Natural Resources Board has had numerous citizen complaints about the exclusivity of the Conservation Congress. Most participants in the annual Conservation Congress election are white male hunters, trappers and fishermen. Wildlife watchers, state park sticker purchasers, wildlife rehabbers, women, and most citizens are unaware of this election and its power. The outreach by the DNR is targeted to rod and gun clubs, deer and bear kill registration stations, and hunting supply stores. Would you be willing to orchestrate a public information campaign to open this election to the general public?
2. It has been recommended that an informational booklet describing the Conservation Congress annual election process be given to every state park sticker purchaser. It should be available at all DNR facilities (such as the MacKenzie Center) and given out at all DNR presentations to general citizens. The DNR creates arsenals of paperwork for hunters. Will you create a brochure targeted to educate citizens about the WCC election, designed to get participation of the majority who appreciate living wildlife and democracy?
3. As of 2006 Milwaukee County had a population of 915,097 with five delegates on the Conservation Congress. The 39 counties in Wisconsin with lowest population together had 889,596 citizens, who get 39 X 5 —or 195 — delegates. Dane County is similarly disenfranchised. Would you work with a citizen committee to reapportion representation to be fair?
4. Wisconsin has a high proportion of citizens who vote. About 1.5 million voted in spring elections the week before the Conservation Congress election. The average number of Conservation Congress voters is 5,080 statewide. No absentee ballots are allowed. Candidates are not announced before the election. Debates are not held on the issues before the vote. If the WCC election were added into the regular spring election, citizens could access it easily. Would the board work with a citizen committee to reform this election, tying it into the spring elections, with absentee ballots? Are you willing to require those running for county delegate positions to collect nomination signatures for placement on the ballot (as most elections require)?
5. Hunter intimidation has been systemic when nonhunters attend the Conservation Congress election meetings. In 2000 bird lovers attended, thinking it was a “hearing” on the fate of mourning doves. Afterward many complained to the NRB about abusive treatment by the hunters. Nothing was done. Citizens did not return to the subsequent election meetings (the desired result). Since the hunters feel this is their turf, intimidation is a chronic problem. A citizen group has proposed an alternate Wildlife Watching Congress under Wisconsin election law for safe, transparent, full participation of the nonhunting public. Would you agree to this solution to an obvious problem?
“It is a crime to privatize the commons,” said Robert Kennedy Jr.
Stand with us to reform the DNR to represent a living democratic Wisconsin. Unlikely allies can strengthen each other.
May 15 column: DNR funding: The architecture of a killing store
Patricia Randolph of Portage is a longtime activist for wildlife. firstname.lastname@example.org