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Wildlife groups want DNR board chair out; state business group wants him to stay for now

Posted at 3:35 p.m. on July 21, 2021

The Brillion News

MADISON - The Humane Society of the United States and the Center for Biological Diversity sent a letter to Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul on June 21 requesting legal action to remove Natural Resources Board chair Frederick Prehn from office.

He continues to hold office more than two months after his six-year term expired on May 1, 2021.

“Mr. Prehn’s brazen refusal to leave office at the end of his term defies the law and tarnishes the integrity of the Natural Resources Board, which is entrusted with managing the state’s wildlife in public trust for all Wisconsin citizens, present and future,” said Nicholas Arrivo, an attorney for the Humane Society. “A state office of extraordinary significance to the public interest cannot be held hostage by the cynical whims of one man, and we urge Attorney General Kaul to take prompt action to remedy the situation.”

The letter said Prehn has no legal basis to continue serving on the seven-member board, which sets wildlife, environmental and public lands policy in Wisconsin.

Its jurisdiction includes approving quotas and other regulations governing wolf hunting seasons, for which environmental groups have had sharp criticism..

The state's February 2021 wolf hunt was the second-deadliest in the state’s history. At least 218 wolves were killed in less than three days, dramatically exceeding quotas.

In August the board is expected to approve quotas for the fall wolf hunt.

“Wisconsin’s brutal winter wolf hunt showed that the Natural Resources Board needs new leadership, someone who actually cares about the state’s wolves and other wildlife,” said Collette Adkins, of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Prehn should accept that his term is over and finally step down before he does any more damage."

The letter to the attorney general was sent by the Madison law firm of Pines Bach LLP on behalf of the two environmental groups.

It was dated July 20.

On Wednesday, July 21, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) told Kaul to let Dr. Prehn continue on the Natural Resources Board until his successor is appointed.

It said a 1964 Wisconsin Supreme Court decision allows members of the NR Board to continue serving until the State Senate votes to confirm their replacement, something that has not yet happened.

“He is someone who is willing to ask the tough questions and gives confidence that the Board realizes its mission to be independent – not merely a rubber stamp for the bureaucracy," said WMC Executive Vice President of Government Relations Scott Manley. "WMC strongly supports Dr. Prehn’s decision to keep serving, as is his right, and encourages him to continue serving until the Senate approves someone who shares his fidelity to the law and independent oversight of the agency."


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