With his Texas drawl, his TV title of “Dr. Deer” and his disdain for some long-standing tenets of professional deer management, James Kroll was sure to stir things up when he was hired by Gov. Scott Walker to evaluate the state’s deer hunt strategy.

Strangely, the controversy that surfaced was over comments Kroll made a decade ago in an interview with a Texas magazine. Kroll was quoted as equating public hunting grounds with socialism and calling national parks “wildlife ghettos.”

Overshadowed by that sideshow was a sobering, scientific look at Kroll’s preliminary findings by Tim Van Deelen, a respected associate professor in UW-Madison’s Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology.

Van Deelen, who has worked closely with the state Department of Natural Resources on deer management issues, said in a letter to Kroll in early May that he found the initial findings “significantly lacking” in scientific content and objective analysis.

Others who commented on the report were troubled by what seemed to be a hastily assembled mishmash of personal comment appended to hundreds of pages of previously published studies. And the public meetings held around the state by Kroll, including one in Mount Horeb in the heart of the area affected by chronic wasting disease, seemed long on homespun sayings and short on science.

Of the preliminary draft, Van Deelen wrote, “The findings and conclusions drawn in the report appear to me to be significantly lacking in the scientific content and objective analysis one would need to ‘forge a new age,’ which I take to mean something similar to making big changes in Wisconsin’s deer management.”

Van Deelen found fault in the initial report with the following:

• Kroll’s reliance on public meetings and an online forum for gathering opinion. Research has shown, Van Deelen said, that people who volunteer their opinions in such settings are not representative of the larger population. Most important, he added, is that Wisconsin hunters who volunteer their opinion in these forums view management more negatively and are more extreme in their views.

• A biased and selective analysis of the “sex-age-kill” model that DNR biologists use to gather information for estimating deer populations. Van Deelen took a hard look at a critical study of the model cited in the report and found that Kroll had selectively quoted from the study to arrive at a negative conclusion about the model’s precision.

• Criticisms of the DNR’s management of deer habitat even though previous research found Wisconsin to be the country’s second most productive state in fawn births. Kroll, Van Deelen wrote, failed completely to consider the issue of a deer herd that is too large.

• A claim unsupported by any accompanying science that predators, primarily wolves, are having a major negative impact on the deer herd.

During the public meetings, Kroll defended the preliminary report and said the final analysis, due by the end of the month, will be much more complete.


Send science news to Seely at rseely@madison.com.

Ron Seely has covered science and environment for nearly 20 years at the State Journal and teaches science communication at UW-Madison. Seely On Science explores and shares research news from both laboratories and the natural world — from scientific curiosities to discoveries that are likely to reshape our view of the world.

Emailrseely@madison.com

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1trik2
1trik2


As a old guy hunter I think other hunters of today are very spoiled. Back in the 60's you didn't see many deer in southern Wisconsin and in many areas in the north where all of the deer were people were almost hunting on top of one another, we had party permits that allowed 4 people to share in the harvest of a doe. Some years you got a deer some you didn't no big deal. Now you have a bunch of gun toting crybabies with GPS, scopes with laser sights, warm boots and hand warmers, ATVs and all other technology. Bow hunters with fancy bows crossbows and the like. For years some folks I know were harvesting 2 or 3 deer each per year what the hell do you think is going to happen. A bunch of entitled crybabies that think if they don't get a deer every year it is the end of the world. It is a sport, sometimes you win sometimes you lose you don't get a trophy for participation in deer hunting.

ButSiriuslyFolks
ButSiriuslyFolks

+1

rrivoire
rrivoire

Thanks for that dose of reality. High Five.

Worker 28
Worker 28

+100

DeFarge
DeFarge

With chronic wasting disease now spreading to areas where it has never been seen, in the far north, deer hunters should think twice and have every deer checked before eating the meat. Makes one wonder if Walker ate some and now has holes in his brain...

FearorLove
FearorLove

In January and February, Franklin's Marquette Law School poll found Barrett's favorability rating high, while 35% of those polled said they did not know enough about him to form an opinion.

But as Barrett's statewide visibility increased, voters' opinions shifted from overall favorable to unfavorable. By the end of the race, Barrett's favorability ratings had fallen and only 11% were unable to form an opinion.

You include Scott Walkers year long campaign and his 63.4 mil, vs Barretts fraction on campaign time and his 7.8 mil, not including late spending for both. How could anyone say this would not influence those votes.

It seamed to me most of Walkers votes came from secluded but included northern parts of the state, Barrett never covered in his failed campaign.

medwood
medwood

q

FearorLove
FearorLove

Scott Walker and outside supporters spent 63.4 million. Tom Barrett and outside supporters spent 7.8 million. No one else can see this is the only reason he won his recall election.

FearorLove
FearorLove

New estimates including late spending on the race say, Scott Walkers 80 Million vs Tom Barretts 19 million. Scott Walker spent 61 Million more, Barrett never had a chance.

FearorLove
FearorLove

Late spending on the race would be about 18 million for Scott Walker and 11 million for Tom Barrett.

ButSiriuslyFolks
ButSiriuslyFolks

That's a silly talking point, and this is coming from someone who has been critical of Walker since last February.

The money is a symptom of the problem, the problem being beholden to special interests instead of the people. The problem is messaging, and Walker and the gang did an excellent job of framing the election as "recalls are bad", convincing quite a number of people (60% according to some exit polls) that they think the recall is a bad idea and has gotten out of hand.

Barrett's people did a terrible job of framing the debate, plain and simple. They couldn't get a clear, coherent message out there, vacillating between pointless job numbers and "divide and conquer", without showing conclusively what they would do besides undo what Walker had done.

The Tea Party started out as a groundswell of anger and change, and the Republicans framed, funded, and exported it into a movement. The Wisconsin Protests started as a groundswell of anger and change, and the Democrats said, "Good luck! We hope you win!" That doesn't make what the protests were about "wrong", but it does speak volumes about how you transform a movement into a viable political strategy.

Had the recall election been held June 5, 2011, or if Wisconsin had a referendum on Act 10 as Ohio did, I honestly don't think Walker would have prevailed.

FearorLove
FearorLove

Right Big money did a great job in persuading voters to believe Scott Walker deserves to finish his term. I saw all the commercials how could you not. Yes Barretts campaign was terrible he didn't cover most of the state and Walker had over a year head start on Barrett.

ButSiriuslyFolks
ButSiriuslyFolks

That's the way it goes in a recall process that takes a year or so in the making, which is why I think the Dems should have chosen either last summer's recalls or Walker this year, and counted on flipping the Assembly and/or Senate in November. Makes it a lot harder now.

Don't get me wrong, the money is a huge way of getting your message out. But even Russ Feingold would have lost with more money and the same messaging. For a recall to usually be successful, you need bipartisan support, while both sides galvanized their bases, only the GOP truly worked on talking points that swayed the undecided 12%.

FearorLove
FearorLove

virtually no one could ever beat Walker with that amount of cash he spent 880% more than Barrett. Walker competition just got lost in a sea of Walker ads 8.8 to 1. But even Rod Blagojevich would of lost with more money and the same message. Most would of won with more money. There are polls to show to. In 93 percent of House of Representatives races and 94 percent of Senate races that had been decided by mid-day Nov. 5, the candidate who spent the most money ended up winning, according to a post-election analysis by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Hockeydad
Hockeydad

The MSU polls showed Walker leading by 7% from the beginning, middle, and that's what he won by at the end. So at what point did that money sway that % to have an effect?

Most agree voters knew how they stood even before the recall was official.

I think the voters of WIS are smart enough to make up their own minds. The money was a waste.

FearorLove
FearorLove

Scott Walker also had a year head start to campaign over Tom Barrett.

Hockeydad
Hockeydad

I am an avid deer hunter both bow and gun. The whitetail deer is a great asset to this great State. I too, believe that numbers are down greatly, but I too respect the fact that there is some level of optimum herd size. I have no clue what that number may be. Lets hope that between internal and external review, this asset can be properly managed to the benefit of all.

snootyelites
snootyelites

Did Ron Seely sign the recall petition! Scott Walker/GOP against public hunting - jeepers you are out of your mind. It's like saying the Democrats against Abortion! LOL

koala
koala

Let go of the politics and read the report. If you're not appalled at the 21-page report produced for $125,000, and how flimsy and inconsequential its recommendations are, you should be. I don't see how anyone who is deeply concerned with deer issues in Wisconsin can be happy with this report. It'd be good to read van Deelen's commentary as well, though I don't know if that's publicly available yet.

Retoother
Retoother

That is not the final report.............it is not out yet.

koala
koala

I never said it was. But I am very skeptical about what the final report will be like, given what Kroll and his associates have already provided as their first draft. Have you read their draft report? Are you happy with it? If so, why?

ButSiriuslyFolks
ButSiriuslyFolks

1) No, he did not sign anything. Quit using that as some sort of trump card, especially when it is untrue.

2) Scott Walker has said repeatedly he is against fees for public hunting. He has not, however, stated he is opposed to selling off public land to private entities. This whole discussion could be moot if he would just go on record as saying it is NEVER going to happen, but like signing right-to-work legislation, he won't.

3) Please. Don't forget no Catholic women would ever use contraception, either, as it is a sin against God.

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/feb/06/cecilia-munoz/white-house-official-says-98-catholic-women-have-u/

98% of Catholic women have used contraception? Mostly True.

A political ideology should not be used to make blanket judgement of an entire group of people and their beliefs.

koala
koala

Excellent reporting, Ron!

I'm familiar with van Deelen's commentary and the entirety of the Kroll et al. report, and I completely support van Deelen's take on this. This 21-page report @ $125K is the flimsiest excuse for "scientific" analysis I have ever seen ... and I say that as a full-time professional ecologist. What a colossal waste of money. Why did Walker hire Kroll, instead of tapping into some of the great strengths in wildlife ecology (and ecology more generally) at UW-Madison? Hell, we would have done it for free, and the result would have been scientifically defensible.

bosco
bosco

Yea the bear hunters wanted the wolf pop put under science management but it was the non farmer, non hunter that were unfamiliar with the negative effects of too many wolves. So you know, deer hunters as a least as likely to want the wolves controlled as are the bear hunters.

Anybody who thinks we will fence off public property for Dr deer management reasons does not understand how this all works and who want what.

geo_
geo_

Isn't it the republican way to circumvent science and replace it with ancedote and personal beliefs.

tomtom
tomtom

its the Republican way to circumvent science by ideology, you know, the earth is only 6000 years old

Retoother
Retoother

It was done because the DNR stopped listening to the people that spend money so they can have a job.

He was brought in to help bridge the gap between the hunters and the DNR with the my way or the highway on deer hunting.

tomtom
tomtom

why oh why would Walker want to hire somebody from Texas to be a deer czar for Wisconsin is beyond me

ButSiriuslyFolks
ButSiriuslyFolks

Personally, I'm not a hunter, nor a gun-toter. I hold no political emnity against those who are pro-hunting or pro-guns, however.

I think, however, the hiring of Dr. Deer is ideologically motivated, but is likely to go through due to the political capital lost by the Democrats in the recall.

In that vein, I would highly recommend that those with "skin in the game" start taking a very close look at what is being suggested and use their higher-level thinking skills, instead of rubber stamping talking points. Personally, I could care less. But I think a lot of folks on the right do divide into two groups when it comes to "hunting because we have guns and can use them" and "hunting is a great Wisconsin tradition that should be preserved for future generations".

Quit worrying about one-upping the liberals and start having some meaningful conversations, rather than out of fear that Barrack is coming to steal your guns in the middle of the night.

jussmiddle
jussmiddle

I am sure Walker got a LOT of votes from the deer hunters because he gave them Concealed Carry and shows his support for the NRA. I am gonna be laughing my butt off at those hunters when they find their prime public hunting lands fenced off and unavailable for PUBLIC hunting in the name of "deer management". And of course a guy from Texas knows SO MUCH MORE about our deer herd and habitat than our own scientists who have been studying it for years!

JustAMan
JustAMan

Hey Retoother - what data or research are you basing your conclusions on for Wisconsin deer, "Between predators and earn a buck the immature animals are first to go." Oh wait, I know the answer, there is no data or research to suggest your statement has any truth. I guess whatever you make up in your head just spills out of your mouth, or this case your fingers. Do yourself a favor and put a muzzle on it, you are embarrassing yourself.

Retoother
Retoother

Here is a little link for you also..........do some homework JustaBOY

http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/hunt/forum/28.pdf

JustAMan
JustAMan

Alright toothie - let's play.

The figure you cite shows a bar chart of the numbers of deer killed from 2004 to 2011. In your simple mind, you see a declining trend, but wait, what is being measured - it is the number of deer killed (and reported). Not only do we not know if there was variable effort over the years (consider there is evidence suggesting a decline in hunter participation, which would explain the declining numbers of deer killed), but we have no idea why (even if there was constant or increasing hunter effort over the years) deer numbers are declining. There has been no scientifically defensible study/experiment to show that EAB and/or wolf depredation is directly or indirectly responsible for any decline in deer whatsoever.

One problem, my numerically challenged friend, is that people like you have no idea how to interpret data or make reasoned conclusions and inferences - i.e., knowing the difference between correlation and causation. If Walker wasn't making UW education so expensive (UW is raising tuition in response to massive state cuts in funding), as WI state legislators apparently do not believe in making higher education available to the masses, perhaps you and those in your social network (God have mercy on their souls) could actually learn something and be more informed citizens.

I ask you, most warmly, to nut-up or shut-up. Enjoy your weekend.

Worker 28
Worker 28

Hey Tooth-fairy, you are incapable of admitting you are outmatched here, but I'm enjoying your feeble attempts of debating. Let's focus here on the evidence you claim in support of your position - the unit 28 deer kill/pop estimates, but first I will respond to each of your points.

1) So if there was no EAB in unit 28, you are suggesting that wolf depredation is responsible for declining deer killed in that unit. Where is your evidence?

2) I never said that deer hunters don't impact deer numbers - of course they do. I have not read about a scientifically conducted experiment to convincingly show that EAB has significantly reduced population size - if you have, please let me know. The DNR "saying so" is not good enough; it's just as convincing to me as you saying so.

3) Where is you data to suggest that hunters numbers did not drop enough to make harvest drop by 30% in one year. You are making a big assumption there, and I am revealing your not-so-hidden confirmation bias. Also consider that SAK population estimates are in fact estimates that have uncertainty - have you taken that into account?

4) Now you are talking about bears, which were not part of the original basis the argument, you can't just switch things up now - we are not talking about how bears may/may not impact deer. I am aware of that study, and fully support the DNR/UW efforts to find out the truth.

5) Haha, you're making assumptions about my political leanings - I'm an independent, you bonehead, and think Doyle was a POS in several ways. Walker went beyond maintaining UW cuts under Doyle, he accelerated the declining funding. No matter which party is in power, it is stupid. An ignorant population is more easily controlled, or directed in your case.

Yes, I am wise in some ways, just as we all have our areas of expertise - I'm glad you recognize that. You may know how many deer you see during your hunt, but that does not necessarily translate with how many deer are in the greater population. You make the assumption that the number of deer observed directly correlates with underlying population sizes. Can you provide evidence in support of that, besides what your buddies at the corner bar say?

You have much to learn, and it would be in your interests to do more listening than speaking. You know, though you may not admit it, that my arguments are strong and usurp your feeble attempts at rebuttal. I would give you credit if you deserved it, unlike you, who stubbornly holds on to baseless and flimsy conclusions to support your previously engrained bias against the DNR and hence, support of Kroll. If you ever wonder why this state is going to hell in a hand-basket, just look in the mirror and you will find part of the answer.

Retoother
Retoother

Worker you about what you are talking about.

1) the DNR is finally admitting that there is something to the predation on the deer population....hence the studies on it.

2) Dig up your own info.....I am not going to supply it for you...I did my own...you can too.

3) Deer hunter numbers have been 625,000-642,000 for the last 10-15 years. Again do your research.

4) I said predators.....bears are one of them.

5)....how many handles do you have? You lost all credibility when you come out with more than one.

Move on worker or justAboy....who ever you are. You lost your stance a long time ago if you did not know that EAB threw off SAK big time and the DNR knows it.

You're a lost wannabe hunter....like usual.

tebriel
tebriel

I can only hope that Walker throws the deer hunters under the bus next for big business.

Rosalie
Rosalie

Thanks to Ron for his excellent environmental reporting.

I have heard that within the DNR there is also much disagreement by biologists on the wolf hunt legislation - which is tailored to the wishes of bear hunters. It makes one remember the mining bill written by a mining company that would have run rough-shod over our strong environmental protections.

I think we need to listen more to our scientists and less to special interests.

bosco
bosco

I am glad to see this now before the report. It puts pressure on Kroll to get this right. He will need the help as his hiring will go down as another fiasco perpetrated by the hunters rights coalition. They had the State waste money on verifiying the sex-age-kill formula. Now this. Herb Behnke's thought Kroll's hiriing was a disgrace to our state's great game management personal. If you are not familar with a game management issue just go with Herb. If your opinion is different than Herb's you best change it. He is a legend in advising the DNR over decades. Expect to be disappointed by the report and outcome from it.

Retoother
Retoother

It does not matter on the fawn birth percentage if the fawn is not going to make it to it's first birthday. Between predators and earn a buck the immature animals are first to go.

Why don't you wait for the final analysis Seely?