Governor Scott W. Walker has issued a sweeping executive order requiring the Wisconsin Wildlife Conservation Commission to create “wildlife commissioners” within six months.
The move is the latest in a series of executive orders issued by the governor to increase state involvement in wildlife management in recent years.
The order also includes requiring the agency to establish a website for state and federal public officials to request comments on the agency’s plans to protect endangered species, improve habitat conservation and promote public lands.
“The Commission will not be the agency of last resort, and the Commission must become the agency responsible for the safety and well-being of wildlife, not just for its own employees,” Walker said in a statement released Tuesday.
“These actions will ensure that the public knows that the Commission will protect and promote the health and well being of our wildlife, and that we are working to protect it.” “
The governor also signed an order that directs the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to “conduct a review of the Wildlife Commission’s wildlife management practices and policies.” “
These actions will ensure that the public knows that the Commission will protect and promote the health and well being of our wildlife, and that we are working to protect it.”
The governor also signed an order that directs the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to “conduct a review of the Wildlife Commission’s wildlife management practices and policies.”
The order includes recommendations for “a system of review to evaluate the agency and its practices and make recommendations for change.”
It also includes recommendations that include making the Commission a “responsible entity” in its activities, providing the public with “a clearer picture of the agency operations, including its funding, and establishing a review board that includes all stakeholders.”
“This is an unprecedented step,” said Kate Anderson, executive director of the Wisconsin Center for Biological Diversity, a conservation group that filed a lawsuit last year challenging the governor’s order.
“This order is an incredibly ambitious proposal to turn the commission into a wildlife agency.”
The group is also calling on the commission to “immediately cease any and all activities related to the removal of native species and establish a process for considering their fate in the state.”
A recent report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest found that the governor and the commission have a “lack of transparency and accountability” regarding the agency.
“In this environment of rapid and unprecedented change, it’s hard to imagine how the Commission could operate in the way it does,” said David Hahn, director of Wisconsin Policy Research, in a written statement.
“A wildlife commissioner would have no role in decisions regarding the placement of native wildlife in state parks, whether it be by state agencies or by private landowners, or even whether the state would be willing to accept a new, native species.”
“The governor is using this order to create a commission to manage the state’s wild lands, but the commission should not have a wildlife commissioner, which will mean no public input into the decisions being made by the Commission,” said John Ehrlich, executive vice president of the Humane Society of the United States.
“As long as we can trust the commission, it should not be in charge of protecting wildlife or its habitat.”
The Wisconsin Wildlife Conservancy was established in 2003 and serves the interests of wildlife and the environment in the western part of the state.
It is one of the largest conservation organizations in the nation and has a diverse membership of more than 8,000 volunteers.
“Our mission is to protect the state wildlife,” said Scott Denson, the organization’s executive director.
“I have always been clear about the importance of protecting the Wisconsin wildlife.
We’ve always worked with the state to protect habitat for deer, elk, moose, and bison.”