As an outdoorsman and longtime subscriber to the Journal Sentinel, it is especially disappointing to follow the paper’s current outdoor writer, Paul Smith. Considering the legacies of Jay Reid and Bob Riepenhoff, the phenomenal reporters whose columns formerly graced this paper, the politically correct approach of Smith is getting to be too much to take.
Smith’s July 5 column on the Wisconsin Waterfowl Breeding Population survey, “Keep eye on ducks,” was fraught with inaccurate and partisan statements. The survey shows that the breeding population is healthy, with total population at long-term mean levels and mallards 19 percent above the 45 year mean. Yet somehow Smith interprets these promising findings as a “real decline” in breeding numbers. He uses this faulty conclusion to make a partisan statement about wetlands, writing that “A recently passed state law will allow one million acres of wetland to be filled.” That statement is false and misleading. First, the legislation Smith is referring to, Act 183, requires a permit on any filling over 10 thousand square feet. Furthermore, each acre of filled wetlands must be replaced by 1.2 acres of new wetlands, a net positive.
Smith’s biased reporting is not limited to ducks. He comments on the Northwoods whitetail deer population without considering the growing threat of wolves. Similarly, he has refused to consider the impact of Native American spear fishing on the walleye population, choosing instead to blame “global warming” for recent declines. Last year Smith recommended cutbacks in Lake Michigan sport fishing, predicting an imminent population crash. And yet, just a few weeks ago, he was forced to admit that the 2018 angling season has been a tremendous success so far.
It seems like Smith may be bored with true outdoor writing. If so, he should quit and find a job writing about politics.
Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville) represents Wisconsin’s 20th senate district.