By The Associated Press

Eau Claire Leader-Telegram. June 30, 2022.

Editorial: Deer season tweaks show responsibility

A few days ago the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board announced a handful of changes to this year’s white-tailed deer season. They weren’t major — most hunters probably won’t notice much change — but the tweaks will have some regional effects.

Two counties in northern Wisconsin — Bayfield and Florence — saw a reduction in antlerless deer permits, while 37 Wisconsin counties will hold a Holiday Hunt between Dec. 24, 2022, and Jan. 1, 2023. Officials expect there to be plenty of deer, since the previous year’s hunt saw fewer taken and a mild winter likely boosted numbers.

It may seem a little odd to be thinking about the state’s deer hunt right now. Hunting camps aren’t exactly remembered for being warm-weather sites most years, and we’re just now approaching the hottest part of the year. But conserving the state’s deer population takes planning, and we’re glad to see state officials out in front of things.

The past deer season saw 309,392 deer taken by hunters. That was lower than the prior season, but the figure has bounced up and down for a few years. Figures from the Wisconsin DNR show the last time hunters took more than 400,000 deer was in 2008, when they bagged 451,885. And that was down from more than half a million the previous season.

Interestingly, Eau Claire figures show local hunters bucking the trend. Two consecutive years of growth have followed the 2019 season, which could be an all-time low.

Wisconsin’s hunting resources are bountiful. Hunting is a strong tradition in the state, and one that has given generations of Wisconsin residents fond memories. What the DNR’s recent announcement should remind us of is that responsible hunting practices take consistent evaluation and re-evaluation to ensure sustainability.

There’s a note on the DNR’s website that helps explain how much work goes into preparing the figures hunters wait for each year. Analysts use “fawn to doe ratios collected in late summer” to help estimate the state’s abundance of deer. That practice looks at location, habitat and other data to make some educated assumptions about survival rates.

Analysts also look at yearlings. The number of yearling does and bucks, and the ratio of the two, can project breeding patterns for future years. It’s not perfect. The DNR admits that the deer numbers vary considerably and that it can be hard to get a decent sample size in some areas. But the effort helps the state make informed decisions when it comes to setting quotas and guiding license sales.

It may be easy to overlook the work that goes on behind the scenes, but it’s a mistake to do so. Our country has seen the results of uncontrolled hunting in previous generations. While the best known example is the bison, deer have their own story.

In the late 1800s hunting drove white tailed deer numbers to as few as 500,000 nationally. In fact, the numbers were so low the first federal wildlife law, the Lacy Act of 1900, banned interstate sales of venison.

Numbers have obviously rebounded since then; just ask the car insurance industry. People have realized that regulation and conservation aren’t inimical to hunting, but instead help ensure future hunts. Organizations like Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever have their origin in the reality that hunters are often among the most ardent voices in favor of protecting habitats.

In short, we’ve learned responsibility. And the annual tweaks to the numbers and quotas for deer in Wisconsin show a continuing commitment to that responsibility. And it’s part of why the reaction to the state’s mishandled wolf hunt was so strong. People realized that what happened wasn’t in keeping with Wisconsin’s legacy of responsible management.

The fall hunting seasons may be a few months away, but the groundwork being laid now will provide for successful hunts. The changes announced by the natural resources board aren’t major. What they are, though, is reaffirmation that Wisconsin takes its responsibilities seriously when it comes to ensuring hunting and nature continue to coexist, both today and for years to come.

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Kenosha News. July 3, 2022.

Editorial: Lifeguarding pay needs to increase to make it the desirable, must-have job it once was

It used to be that being a lifeguard was a coveted summer job.

You get to sit outside by the pool all day and get a great tan.

That is still true, but the reality is that there are a lot of employers competing right now for teen workers – or any workers for that matter.

Where fast food used to pay minimum wage — $7.25 per hour – now workers can get up to $15 for fast food jobs and other summer jobs.

To compete in today’s market, employers have been forced to pay more.

Unfortunately not all places have been able to keep up, including local pools. Both in Racine and Kenosha counties and around the nation, many pools have had to limit hours and days because of staffing shortages. Instead of getting into specific hours – we’ll just say it’s probably best to call ahead if you are heading to a public pool and verify their hours for that day.

Going forward, we can accept these makeshift day-by-day hours, or we can try to make adjustments for the future.

Local and county governments along with nonprofits and businesses should come together to figure out some solutions for next year.

Maybe there is more sponsorship opportunities for local businesses. Maybe daily rates need to go up by $1 or so to help offset increased pay. No one wants prices to go up, but if you are faced with a closed pool or an extra $1 on a 90-degree day, you are probably going to pay the extra $1 or even extra $5.

It may be too late for this summer, but possibly a bonus program could help. After all there are two months of summer still left, before kids are back in school.

The City of Kenosha will reimburse lifeguards up to $125, for those who complete and pass the American Red Cross Lifeguard Certification or (Re)certification AND complete 30 working days. Lifeguard salary is $12.58 to $14.15 per hour.

But that is not enough. Plus some families don’t have the $125 upfront to pay for the certification course.

Lifeguarding is not an easy job, even though many people think it is. Those lifeguards have to watch hundreds of kids at one time. They are responsible to be there and rescue anyone in danger and that danger can happen at any moment.

Other summer jobs like waiting tables can also be stressful, but if you bring a wrong order, it’s not a matter of life or death, even though some customers may not realize that.

In addition, lifeguards also have to do training and get certified. They cannot just walk on the job on day one.

Something needs to be done to make lifeguarding the desirable must-have job of the summer again, otherwise pools are going to have to shut down. It starts with pay.

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Wisconsin State Journal. July 3, 2022.

Editorial: Pence was a hero. Trump was a villain. Johnson was a stooge.

America can’t risk another coup attempt.

Congress must clarify and strengthen the process for certifying future presidents so the will of the people is respected.

The next vote for president is only two years and four months away. Congress — including Wisconsin’s congressional delegation — has no time to waste. The Fourth of July weekend, with its celebration of American ideals, should help steel our leaders to defend democracy.

The hearings of the House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol have shown with startling detail and firsthand accounts that former President Donald Trump was repeatedly told by top advisers that he lost the 2020 election — only for Trump to escalate his reckless and ultimately violent bid to stay in power.

Trump pressured Vice President Mike Pence to unilaterally declare Trump the winner of the 2020 campaign by throwing out or replacing Electoral College votes from states such as Wisconsin that narrowly favored President Joe Biden. Trump’s lawyers hoped to exploit vague wording in the Electoral Count Act of 1887. The Act requires the vice president to preside over the counting of electoral votes and certify the winner.

Shamefully, U.S. Sen Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, was part of Trump’s plot. Though Johnson initially denied any involvement in an attempt to deliver false Wisconsin electors to Pence on Jan. 6, the House Committee uncovered text messages showing Johnson did try to help.

Pence resisted Trump’s pressure campaign, and Pence’s staff refused to accept a list of bogus electors from Johnson’s staff. Pence followed his oath to the Constitution by certifying Biden’s 305-232 victory in the Electoral College. He wasn’t intimidated by angry mobs chanting “Hang Mike Pence!” as they stormed the Capitol seeking to stop the peaceful transfer of power.

America can’t risk a similar attack on our democracy in the future. The Jan. 6 invasion of the Capitol was nothing short of a coup attempt, with Trump encouraging and then refusing to stop the insurrection. He even told top aides that Pence deserved to be hanged, according to House testimony.

Congress can’t allow such a travesty to repeat. Congress must tighten and clarify the Electoral Count Act of 1887 so it’s perfectly clear that the vice president’s role in certifying presidential winners is ceremonial, not pivotal. As Pence told senators in the early morning of Jan. 7, after rioters were finally cleared from the Senate chambers: “The truth is, there’s almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president. The presidency belongs to the American people and the American people alone.”

Pence was a hero. Trump was a villain. Johnson was a stooge. The ongoing House hearings are making that more clear than ever.

Congress needs to prioritize swift approval of the updated Electoral Count Act negotiated by Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and others. It would emphatically make the vice president’s actions in overseeing the counting of votes ministerial. It also would increase the threshold for challenging a state’s electors. Instead of a single member of both houses of Congress having the power to object, 20% of both chambers would have to agree to trigger a challenge.

Polling suggests the public is solidly behind this sensible safeguard. Wisconsin’s congressional delegation should be, too. Our American democracy — entering its 246th year — may depend on it.