U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- In 1967, as part of a government reorganization, the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board was formed from two previous boards, to oversee the Department of Natural Resources. The board governs the Department of Natural Resources. It is part of a long history of Citizen controlled boards in Wisconsin. The board members are not paid. The governor appoints board members. The state senate confirms their appointment. There are seven members, who serve six-year staggered terms. There has never before been a dispute about who controls the Department of Natural Resources, and who makes policy. This is confirmed by the Department of Natural Resources website, which is still available at this point, and has not yet been taken down or rewritten in Orwellian fashion: From the DNR website:
The NRB is the policy-setting body for the DNR. All rule proposals, land acquisitions, property management master plans and budget proposals from department staff must be approved by the board before advancing for legislative or gubernatorial review and approval.
On 4 October, 2021, Governor Evers, through his appointee at the head of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, defied the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board, which has the legal authority to set policy for the Department of Natural Resources. Evers’ appointed DNR head set a quota for the November wolf hunt directly in defiance of the quota mandated by the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board. From dnr.wisconsin.gov:
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today announced that the statewide quota for the Fall 2021 wolf season has been set at 130 wolves.
The department is authorized by state statute and the department’s rules to make the final decision on the quota for the Fall 2021 wolf harvest. In determining the quota, the department considered the best available information and scientific modeling, as well as the input from the Wolf Harvest Committee, the Natural Resources Board, and the many groups and members of the public who provided comments to the department and the Board.
State-licensed hunters and trappers will be authorized to harvest 74 wolves within the six zones established in the department’s regulations. The department will honor the Ojibwe Tribes’ treaty right within the Ceded Territory of 56.
In this press announcement, the DNR relegated its legislatively created supervisory body to the position of a merely advisory agency, thus removing itself from any citizen oversight.
The decision of the Board to set the wolf quota was controversial, but no one doubted or questioned the authority of the board to do so. If the Board did not have the power to do so, there was no reason for the DNR to recommend the 130 wolf quota.
Even the leftist Milwaukee Journal Sentinel was surprised by the action. From jsonline.com:
“They are not free to just do that,” Kazmierski said in comments to The Associated Press. “It’s in violation of the statute that establishes the board.”
Experts on Monday were surprised by the DNR’s announcement.
“It’s never been done,” said George Meyer, who retired in 2002 from the DNR after a 30-year career, including as a staff lawyer and secretary. “It’s not that there weren’t disagreements, but they were always worked out. This is a real mess.”
The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board held a special meeting in response, on 8 October, to confer with legal counsel in a special closed session, presumably to determine a response to this lawless action.
Governor Evers has been frustrated because the Wisconsin State Legislature has refused to ratify his appointee to head the Board. From wpr.org:
Under state statutes, the Natural Resources Board consists of seven members that are nominated by the governor in six-year staggered terms that are confirmed by the state Senate. A member can remain on the board past the expiration of their term until the Senate confirms a nominee, according to staff with the Wisconsin Legislative Council.
The legal basis for Prehn to remain on the board is rooted in a 1964 decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which allows him to “hold over” in his position as chair until the new appointee is confirmed. A person who is nominated to replace the current officeholder may not exercise the powers of the position until the Senate confirms them. The governor can’t remove a holdover in an appointed position without just cause.
The current Attorney General, Josh Kaul filed a lawsuit to remove Chairman Prehn from the board. The lawsuit was immediately struck down by a judge in leftist Dane County. The AG is supposed to represent the board in lawsuits that are pending by far-left activist groups. From empowerwisconsin.org:
“Apparently he’s in the active process of an appeal to get our chair removed while supposedly defending us. Talk about a conflict, said Kazmierski, who, like Prehn, was appointed to the board by former Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican.
Kazmierski said it’s just the latest example of a liberal-led executive branch that is openly defying the laws of the state.
“It’s total lawlessness,” Kazmierski said.
“To me it’s kind of a precedent-setting case. That’s why as a board we’re fighting so hard. If this precedent gets set, this agency can do anything they want, any time they want, Katy bar the door,” he said.
This is part of the growing authoritarianism on the Left. If they cannot get their way through due process of law, they defy the law.
Leftist special interests have been outraged the Natural Resources Board has been determined to do what its policy and the law required it to do, instead of bending to their will. This is the result. Expect more.
This is a direct conflict between the ruling class and those they wish to rule. People in Milwaukee and Madison do not have to live with wolves in their backyards. The urban activists do not care if those in rural areas suffer because of the policies of urban activists. The reality where wolves have been re-introduced is not their concern.
The Wisconsin DNR cannot do this without the approval and sanction of Governor Evers. It is Evers defying the rule of law through his appointee.
Update: Wisconsin Judge blocks Wolf Hunt, says DNR failed to follow the law.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.