MADISON (WKOW) -- In separate actions, a controversial award of state funds to boost hunting and fished is nixed, and state officials take over the operation of a long-standing wildlife education center.
Governor Walker pulled the plug on a controversial $500,000 grant to a sportsmen's group.
The decision came Thursday evening, just hours after the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel raised questions about the group's president being cited for hunting with an improper license back in 2005.
The grant to United Sportsmen was designed to promote the state's sporting heritage.
DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp says any organization that gets financial support from the state must have the trust of the public and it backs Walker's decision.
A representative of United Sportsmen also misled state officials on the group's non-profit status.
United Sportsmen president Andy Patzlaff has yet to return a call from 27 News seeking comment.
Separately, another group, the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, will be replaced by the department of natural resources as the operator of the MacKenzie Environmental Education Center in Poynette.
The wildlife federation ran the facility for the past seven years, but state officials rejected the group's bid to continue, with Stepp stating, "...status quo was not an option."
Federation executive director and former DNR secretary George Meyer says his staff has provided top-flight wildlife education to over 15,000 schoolchildren annually, and worries the state's potentially higher overhead in running the center will lead to program cuts.
Kurt Thiede of the DNR tells 27 News school-based, environmental programming at MacKenzie will be reviewed to ensure quality. Thiede says the review will include input from participating schools.
Thiede says cutting edge, outdoor skills training will be developed and implemented, but says there are no plans to establish a shooting range at the Center.
The wildlife foundation uses seven staff members to carry out center programs. Thiede says future staffing will hinge on the review of the facility's operation and mission.
Before the wildlife federation began operating the MacKenzie Center in 2005, the DNR operated it. Federation officials say the center's environmental and wildlife outreach has taken place since the sixties.
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