State Rep. Tom Tiffany, a Hazelhurst Republican, called Wednesday for the replacement of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources officials who oversee deer hunting.
"It is time for a shake-up of the big game management unit at the DNR," Tiffany said in a news release. "Whatever their agenda, it is failing sportsmen and women and the many businesses that depend on our proud deer hunting tradition in the Northwoods."
The proposal comes one day after James Kroll, Gov. Scott Walker's deer trustee, released his report on the DNR's deer herd management. The report was critical of both the DNR and big-game hunters.
DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp said in a statement Wednesday that Tiffany's proposal is premature, as DNR leaders haven't had time to make any of the policy changes Kroll suggested.
"We are just now getting a chance to dig into the report, so we now need to extend a courtesy to allow my staff to complete their review and develop a plan of action," Stepp, a Walker appointee, said in the statement. "If we need to make changes in the way we do business, and the public supports these changes, we'll make them."
Kroll recommended that the DNR scrap its local deer population goals and let landowners hold mini-hunts on their property. He also was critical of hunters and said they expect the DNR to maintain herds that are too large -- when a herd becomes too big, the deer tend to strip most of the existing foliage and move into developed property and more urban areas to find more food. Kroll sees his own recommendations as a reset button for both parties.
Tiffany said he has three main concerns about the report: the failure of the $40 million chronic wasting disease program; the increasing lack of habitat diversity in the Northwoods, which reduces forage available for deer and other wildlife; and failure of the big-game management unit to use hunter input in its management decisions.
Former state Sen. Russ Decker, a Weston Democrat, made a similar proposal in 2009 after Wisconsin had its most anemic deer hunting season in years.
An aide in Tiffany's office said Wednesday that the legislator was unavailable for further comment.