Need a specific plan for forest preserve deer

Editor’s note: The following column was addressed to Columnist Phil Pash regarding his July 28-Aug. 3, 2004, “Up & Down the Rock” column about public deer hunting in Winnebago County forest preserves.

Regarding your recent “Up and Down the Rock” article, you’re right. I did send a confusing message. The press release you mentioned was trying to address two issues that I felt were being brought up by the board to offer “cover” for the road bond debate and the county board not dealing with a serious budget crisis.

1) Deer reduction, in general. I’m not anti-hunting (nor anti-gun). I don’t have any problems with killing the deer in our forest preserves to reduce their numbers.

2) Gun vs. bow: I do not hunt, but I have discussed gun vs. bow with friends and family over the years. My earliest discussions were with college classmates in Sheboygan, Wis. Many seemed to prefer bow hunting, but most agreed he best way to bring a buck home was with a gun. (However, my father in-law claimed a bow hunter in a tree stand could do very well.)

My preference for sharpshooters vs. archers is simply a matter of killing efficiency.

3) Staff vs. non-staff hunter programs: The county’s liability, in the event of an accident while killing the deer, is theoretically less with paid staffers than paying participants. A paying participant, even after signing a disclaimer, would be more likely, having more standing in court, to file suit against the county. My objection to a “pay to participate” to hunt is simply a legal, protectionist position. A lawsuit for damages could cost us more than paying the sharpshooters. (as weak as that may sound to some folks).

I admire Stephen Hawking, a brilliant scientist, a great deal. He recently admitted he was wrong about one key part of his long-held, ground-breaking theory regarding black holes. Anyone can make a mistake. I may be wrong, too, but unless someone comes up with a specific plan that deals with all the elements of private citizens and archers participating in the hunt, I suggest we stick with the current sharpshooter program.

My suggestion to the bow hunters of the county is to write their own, well-described and supported ordinance describing a program that allows public participation in the program. Make it public and advertise it, before they bring it to the county board. You could publish it in your column. No back-room deals, no hidden agenda.

Lay the plan out on the table, get support for it, then bring it to the board. Identify two board members to “champion the cause”—they’ll need a first and a second to force a vote. If I were presented with such a plan as chairman, I’d encourage the appropriate board committees to place it on their agendas and deal with it promptly. I’d certainly not stifle a public initiative. I love that stuff.

Paul Gorski is the Democratic nominee for the Winnebago County Board chairman position.

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