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Conservation Groups: Get Politics Out of Hunting, Fishing, Natural Resource Decisions

September 4, 2007

More than 50 conservation groups are asking that control over appointments to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) be taken away from the Governor and returned to the Natural Resources Board. Anne Sayers, of the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, says the change is meant to protect the DNR from undue political pressure.

Sayers says Wisconsin was a national leader on natural resource issues for decades, until the change in the DNR appointment process in 1995. Lawmakers are considering two bills that would put the Natural Resources Board back in charge. Sayers says with partisan governors of either party in direct control of the DNR, politics often trumps sound science when it comes to natural resource management.

"You're going to have decisions that are influenced, at least somewhat, by where that political party is going. And that is something that the hunters and anglers and conservationists of this state see every day in natural resource decision making, and are eager to see eliminated."

The Natural Resources Board appointed the DNR head until 1995, when that power also was assigned to the Governor.

Rob Ferrett/John Robinson, Public News Service - WI