Anderson: 'Dr. Deer' mixes skills, self-promotion

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 20, 2011 - 10:24 PM

James C. Kroll, the new Wisconsin "Deer Czar," rankles some with his commercial style of deer management.

Popular as beer and the Packers are in Wisconsin, deer and deer management take a back seat to neither. Chasing whitetails in the Badger state, and pontificating before and after the hunt about just how that is best accomplished, is as important as making cheese, grilling brats -- and hating on the Department of Natural Resources.

Arguably, in fact, deer hunters play such a major role in Wisconsin's culture that last year they helped elect Gov. Scott Walker to the statehouse.

In his 2010 campaign, Walker alleged the Wisconsin DNR had messed with the state's whitetail herd so badly that "the deer population has dwindled." He also trumpeted that the DNR had engaged in "political games" with the state's deer and had "put bureaucrats in Madison ahead of the hunters of the state."

If elected, Walker said he would appoint a Wisconsin deer kingpin to "revise our deer counting system."

Had he promised two pickups in every driveway and season tickets at the 50-yard line at Lambeau Field, he wouldn't have gained louder applause.

Now Walker and his DNR secretary (commissioner), Cathy Stepp, have named James C. Kroll of Texas as Wisconsin's new "Deer Czar."

Coincidentally, that appointment on Oct. 3 occurred nearly simultaneously with the announcement in Minnesota that the DNR here will soon name a new whitetail boss.

Lou Cornicelli, who had that position, has been promoted to DNR big game program coordinator, leaving his former position vacant.

Whoever is named to spearhead Minnesota deer management, his or her appointment won't be nearly as headline-grabbing as Kroll's has been in Wisconsin.

So controversial has Kroll's naming been there that a gag order reportedly has been placed on DNR employees to quiet the stir.

Calling himself "Dr. Deer," Kroll in many ways is a whitetail management outsider. A Texan (he holds a Ph. D from Texas A&M), he specializes in private deer management, with an emphasis on big deer.

According to his website, Kroll has "spent 35 years debunking popular misconceptions about America's favorite big game animal -- the white-tailed deer."

His services to Wisconsin won't come cheap. He's being paid $125,000 (about $15,000 more than the Minnesota DNR commissioner makes in a year) for a report due next June on Wisconsin DNR deer management.

A professor of forest wildlife and director of the Institute for White-tailed Deer Management and Research at Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, Texas, Kroll's credentials are sufficient to earn him virtually any deer management position in North America.

Except that ... many professional deer managers consider his decision to "go commercial" by so often appearing on TV and in the popular press, and by adopting his "Dr. Deer" moniker, belie the more mundane complexities that state deer managers face every day.

Examples:

While hunters might (and do) want more deer, car insurance companies tired of paying for deer-vehicle collisions in Wisconsin, Minnesota and many other states want smaller whitetail herds.

Similarly, many homeowners in expanding urban areas want deer herds thinned to save trees and shrubbery. Ditto environmentalists who believe an overly large whitetail herd all but dooms the regeneration of white pine and other trees in northern forests.

What's more, deer managers in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, where deer herds have shown great capacity to adapt and multiply in new and varying landscapes, worry that global warming could encourage larger whitetail numbers precisely while a loss of baby-boomer hunters reduces managers' ability to control those herds.

It's unlikely anyone of Kroll's credentials will be named to lead deer management in Minnesota. But his appointment as Wisconsin's Deer Czar -- so far only a source of great theater -- might in the end benefit whitetail management.

Kroll is far from dumb, after all, and he's likely to endorse more of Wisconsin deer management practices than he criticizes. If that occurs, Kroll's popularity among hunters could help sell his findings to hunters, taking some heat off Wisconsin DNR whitetail managers.

Then again ... nah, that won't happen.

Dennis Anderson • danderson@startribune.com

  • related content

  • Outdoors Journal: Blackbirds on move

    Thursday October 20, 2011

    At sunrise, an interested observer might see several thousand blackbirds leaving their roosting area, usually a low wetland area, in the space of five minutes, flying in a narrow band...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Arrieta 2 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: D. Axelrod 7
NY Yankees - LP: S. Kelley 2 FINAL
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 3
Colorado - LP: J. Lyles 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: Y. Petit 4
Tampa Bay - LP: K. Yates 4 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: A. Miller 5
Atlanta - WP: M. Minor 6 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 1
Cleveland - WP: C. Carrasco 3 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: J. Danks 2
Minnesota - WP: A. Swarzak 11 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: B. Chen 5
Texas - LP: R. Mendez 2 FINAL
Houston - WP: C. McHugh 4
Oakland - LP: R. Cook 3 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: F. Salas 4
Atlanta 24 FINAL
Jacksonville 14
Detroit 23 FINAL
Buffalo 0
Indianapolis 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 35
Kansas City 14 FINAL
Green Bay 34
NY Jets 7 FINAL
Philadelphia 37
St. Louis 13 FINAL
Miami 14
Carolina 10 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
New England 13 FINAL
NY Giants 16
Washington 24 FINAL
Tampa Bay 10
Baltimore 22 FINAL
New Orleans 13
Chicago 13 FINAL
Cleveland 33
Denver 27 FINAL
Dallas 3
Minnesota 19 FINAL
Tennessee 3
San Francisco 40 FINAL
Houston 13
Arizona 9 FINAL
San Diego 12
Seattle 31 FINAL
Oakland 41
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 31 FINAL
Tulsa 38
Rutgers 41 FINAL
Washington St 38
Weber State 14 FINAL
(19) Arizona State 45
Temple 37 FINAL
Vanderbilt 7
BYU 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 9:30 PM
Arizona
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
UCF
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
UAB
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Ottawa 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close