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Hunters and Conservationists Have State Capitol in Their Sights

February 21, 2007

Hunters, fishers, and conservationists from around the state are gathering at the state Capitol today, asking lawmakers to protect Great Lakes water quality, boost land stewardship funds, and give more independence to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

David Wisnefski, a pheasant hunter from Monroe, intends to ask legislators to establish the state's stewardship fund, which buys land for wildlife preservation, as a top priority.

"At least 95 percent of the land purchased by the stewardship fund ends up being open to public hunting."

Wisnefski says his sights are set on the Hunter, Angler, and Trapper Bill of Rights, which would put the state's Natural Resources Board in charge of picking the DNR director instead of the Governor. Some lawmakers say elected officials should be in charge of the DNR, to ensure it is more accountable to voters.

Don Hammes of Middleton is with the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation and says he will ask lawmakers to protect Great Lakes water, as well as rivers and inland lakes.

"The value of all of that fresh water to the fishery and the wildlife, it's just a tremendous resource that really needs to be better protected."

Gene Ecklor is with the Hunter Education Conservation Club and says he, too, wants to promote the Hunter, Angler, and Trapper Bill of Rights and the effort to de-politicize the choice of who runs the DNR.

"Our wetlands, our fishing, our hunting, all of the public lands we have should not be something political."

Rob Ferrett/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WI