By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter
MADISON — Here’s some good advice my daddy once told me: Try not to tick off a bear hunter.
Words to live by.
In Wisconsin, hunters of all stripes — bear hunters included — are applauding the state Department of Natural Resources’ decision to keep state properties open to hunting during the federal government’s partial shutdown.
Last week, the National Park Service issued a directive demanding that the DNR close several state-owned properties, jointly run by federal and state agencies.
The DNR effectively told the Park Service to go hunt itself, for a couple of important reasons: a) because a majority of the funding to operate the properties comes from Wisconsin taxpayers and b) the DNR does its level best to live by the don’t-tick-off-a-bear hunter maxim.
“There is no reason for the National Park Service to completely close off Wisconsin citizens’ access to these parks,” said Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association President Al Lobner in a statement, released Monday.
Wisconsin’s black bear season continues through Tuesday. Bow deer season also is open statewide.
“With the majority of the funding coming from the state of Wisconsin, we applaud the DNR’s decision,” the Wisconsin Hunters Rights Coalition, which bills itself as Wisconsin’s only group “100 (percent) dedicated to advancing hunting opportunities and protecting the rights of Wisconsin hunters.”
The Coalition is made up of several groups including the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, Wisconsin Chapters of Safari Club International, the National Rifle Association and Wisconsin FORCE.
Last week, DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp in an email to agency employees said the DNR had clarified areas where the federal procedures are “over-reaching” by ordering the closure of properties where the state has management authority through existing agreements. She said hunting access will remain open in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, but the campgrounds will be closed.
As the partial federal government shutdown moves into its second week, some have accused the Obama administration of making the shutdown harder than it need be.
Joan Anzelmo, a former spokeswoman for Grand Teton National Park told the San Jose Mercury News that shutting down national parks was a tactic used by the White House to turn public opinion against Congress.
“The park closures in 1995 made a tangible difference,” she told the paper. “The visual of park rangers closing down national parks, closing down the Statue of Liberty and the Washington Monument — keeping Americans out of these iconic American sites — those visuals were really a strong factor in people understanding what a government shutdown meant. People got mad.”
Perhaps the president didn’t count on what stringently enforcing the shutdown at the World War II Memorial would do to the fighting spirit of 80-plus-year-olds from the Greatest Generation with perhaps one last chance to see their monument.
He’s learning that it’s kind of like ticking off a bear hunter: It’s just something you don’t do.
Contact M.D. Kittle at [email protected]