Note: On Tuesday, forty legislators wrote a letter to Gov. Tony Evers questioning the decision by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to cancel hunter safety courses and other recreational safety courses. The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty also filed a lawsuit on Tuesday alleging the Department of Natural Resources exceeded it’s authority in cancelling the classes.

June 17, 2020

Dear Governor Evers,

It has come to our attention that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has temporarily suspended all in-person recreational safety classes, including Boating, Snowmobile, ATV, Hunting, Internet Field Days and Bowhunting courses. This is alarming news to the millions of sportsmen across our state and would be incredibly detrimental to participation in our outdoor recreational activities at a time when our citizens, visitors and tourism industry need it the most. In fact, the Department of Tourism says outdoor recreation was the top marketable driver of visits to Wisconsin in 2019.

When the DNR officials responded to a representative about this concern, they stated, “The Department of Natural Resources places a high priority on the safety education programs offered to Wisconsinites.” It is great to see this is something we can all agree on.

If your administration agrees that these programs are a high priority, why have you ordered these courses to be suspended for the foreseeable future? We are reaching out in an earnest attempt to see what your reasoning is for this decision. It would appear, by all measures of your Badger Bounce Back program, there should be no problem with these classes occurring.

As part of your Badger Bounce Back program, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) was asked to create guidelines for re-opening the state. According to the recommendations regarding “Outdoor Gatherings”, which includes outdoor educational programming, these instructional courses could resume with a maximum of 50 participants. Are your agencies following the same guidelines that you’ve asked Wisconsinites to follow, or do they have the privilege of playing by a different set of rules?

No one is arguing that caution should be thrown to the wind as we all work together to responsibly re-open. We are simply pointing out it is becoming impossible to comprehend what rules everyone needs to play by. The DNR is following the lead of the Department of Health Services (DHS), who is waiting on the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to come out with guidelines for in-person pupil instruction. Should the DNR not instead be working with local governments on outdoor recreation class guidelines?

Unfortunately, your administration continues to operate under the Public Health Emergency you declared in Executive Order #72. As I’m sure you are aware, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down your Executive Order #28, which declared bureaucratic overreach by your administration.

As supporters of local control, we would encourage you to follow the court’s ruling and continue to operate under the advisement of local officials, who we believe can make the best decisions for their region.

We are asking that your administration allows for these in-person safety classes to resume immediately. Business owners around Wisconsin have made adjustments to safely re-open and operate their businesses; we have full confidence that our local instructors can institute the necessary safety precautions to allow for these courses to proceed.

Last week, you encouraged Wisconsinites to “go outside and exercise your rights.” We agree with that message and look forward to working with your administration to resolve this situation. Thank you for taking the time to consider our request on behalf of sportsmen, the tourism industry and Wisconsinites across the state.

Respectfully,

  • Representative Rob Swearingen 34th Assembly District
  • Representative Mary Felzkowski 35th Assembly District
  • Representative Robin Vos 63rd Assembly District
  • Representative Warren Petryk 93rd Assembly District
  • Representative Joel Kitchens 1st Assembly District
  • Senator Devin LeMahieu 9th Senate District
  • Senator Chris Kapenga 33rd Senate District
  • Senator Daniel Feyen 18th Senate District
  • Senator Andre Jacque 1st Senate District
  • Senator Howard Marklein 17th Senate District
  • Representative Gae Magnafici 28th Assembly District
  • Representative Rick Gundrum 58th Assembly District
  • Representative Treig Pronschinske 92nd Assembly District
  • Representative Janel Brandtjen 22nd Assembly District
  • Representative Romaine Quinn 75th Assembly District
  • Representative Tyler August 32nd Assembly District
  • Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt 52nd Assembly District
  • Representative Cindi Duchow 99th Assembly District
  • Senator Wanggaard 21st Senate District
  • Senator Stephen Nass 11th Senate District
  • Representative Mike Rohrkaste 55th Assembly District
  • Representative Bob Kulp 69th Assembly District
  • Representative Rob Summerfield 67th Assembly District
  • Representative Timothy Ramthun 59th Assembly District
  • Representative John Spiros 86th Assembly District
  • Representative Rob Stafsholt 29th Assembly District
  • Representative Chuck Wichgers 83rd Assembly District
  • Representative Jesse James 68th Assembly District
  • Representative Mike Kuglitsch 84th Assembly District
  • Representative Adam Neylon 98th Assembly District
  • Representative Barbara Dittrich 38th Assembly District
  • Representative Scott Allen 97th Assembly District
  • Representative Jeff Mursau 36th Assembly District
  • Representative Tony Kurtz 50th Assembly District
  • Representative Cody Horlacher 33rd Assembly District
  • Representative Jon Plumer 42nd Assembly District
  • Representative Paul Tittl 25th Assembly District
  • Representative Joan Ballweg 41st Assembly District
  • Representative Joe Sanfelippo 15th Assembly District
  • Representative Dan Knodl 24th Assembly District