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Little-known group may get state hunting, fishing grant

MADISON (WSAU-Wheeler News)   A group with no experience in training people for outdoor activities is in line to get a half-million-dollar state grant to promote hunting, fishing, and trapping in Wisconsin. The state’s Sporting Heritage Committee will meet on Thursday to consider giving the two-year grant to the United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation. It was the only group that applied for the grant, which was put into the new state budget with little publicity. The funding will be renewed every two years in perpetuity.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said the foundation has several ties to outgoing Assembly Republican Majority Leader Scott Suder – all of which Suder said he had no knowledge of, or had nothing to do with. Suder said the grant would help ensure the future of outdoor activity in Wisconsin.

Deer hunting has most notably been on the decline in Wisconsin in recent years. The foundation’s application said it would use the grant to pay consultants.

The group’s board includes former N-R-A lobbyist Darren LaSorte, who says a new approach is needed to recruit sporting enthusiasts. Former D-N-R Secretary George Meyer, who heads the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, says the goal of the grant is positive – but it appeared it was put together for one group. The state budget measure prohibited Meyer’s group from applying. The Journal Sentinel said several well-known training groups were never aware of the state grant until after the deadline to apply for it.

Wisconsin Waterfowl Association director Don Kirby said his group would have been interested – and it’s disappointed it was never given the chance.