Editorial Roundup: Wisconsin

Eau Claire Leader-Telegram. November 18, 2021.

Editorial: Good luck, hunters

Wisconsin deer have been on edge for a while. Archery and crossbow seasons for them opened up in September. Gun hunts for youth and disabled hunters have already run their course, too.

But this is the big one. The next nine days are what most Wisconsin residents think of as deer season. The gun season begins tomorrow and continues through Nov. 28.

We wish hunters luck. When hunting helps supplement a family’s food, either the hunter’s own or through donations, it’s a way of ensuring the activity gives back to the community. When hunters return to camps they have used for years, they re-establish bonds and relationships that make their lives richer. And, by culling a certain number of deer each year, hunters help keep the deer population in check. That benefits people by reducing opportunities for tick-borne illnesses to spread and keeping Bambi off our bumpers.

The past few years have varied considerably. The combined numbers dipped sharply in 2019 before rebounding last year, when the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said almost 340,000 deer were killed. Even with that, Wisconsin’s deer population is estimated at something north of 1.6 million.

While there are always those who object to hunting in any form, a properly run hunt is a useful tool for wildlife management. Hunting can play an important role in keeping Wisconsin’s natural spaces healthy, along with the animals that occupy those areas.

If there’s a single message for the upcoming hunt, it’s this: Be safe.

If you’re hunting, follow safety precautions. Above all, know what you’re aiming at and what may be behind the deer in your sights. Following basic gun safety rules when you’re in the field should be second nature to anyone who has much experience. Newcomers should place an extra emphasis on developing good habits. A little effort now can help keep you safe for years to come.

There was a reminder a week or two ago about avoiding ash trees for deer stands. The emerald ash borer continues to wreak havoc, and with leaves down it may not be obvious which trees have an infestation. The last thing a hunter needs is to have a stand in a tree that can’t support it.

For non-hunters, this might not be the best time to go for a hike in the woods. If you must, it’s a good idea to wear the same protective orange clothing hunters do. You want to be easily seen as a person, not mistaken for a deer making its way through the woods.

There has been considerable attention in recent weeks to concerns about chronic wasting disease. That ratcheted up a notch locally when an Eau Claire County deer farm saw one animal confirmed to have CWD. Officials in the DNR need an accurate picture of where the disease is present. If you hunt, please have the deer you take tested for CWD. It’s not required, but it will help. Everything they learn helps ensure hunting seasons in future years.

Remember that the DNR’s deer carcass processing center has moved. The Black Earth facility’s lease has come to an end. The DNR’s new facility at Poynette isn’t open to the public, but there are carcass disposal dumpsters and CWD sampling stations at multiple spots around Wisconsin.

Our state has a long history of hunting and outdoor activities, and for good reason. Wisconsin’s landscape isn’t like most states. The dells in the south and fields of central Wisconsin yield to the beginning of the north woods. We border Lake Superior in the north and Lake Michigan to the east, with rivers and streams to provide more opportunities. Wisconsin invites people to enjoy the outdoors in ways other states don’t, and residents have long accepted that invitation.

We hope everyone enjoys a safe and fun hunting season. There’s a lot to be gained from experiencing the woods and being in nature. That’s a view of life people don’t have nearly as often today as was common a couple generations ago, but one with deep roots for all of us.

Good luck, and stay safe.

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Kenosha News. November 23, 2021

Editorial: Shop local this holiday season

Ready or not, Christmas is right around the corner. While it can be tempting to just go on your phone to get your shopping done, now is the time to shop local.

These past two years have been strange to say the least. First businesses were forced to shut their doors when COVID first came out. Businesses were able to reopen, but then they were hit with a whole other set of issues this year as they struggled to afford the rising cost of labor and rising cost of other supplies.

Now as we enter the holiday season, there are many reasons to shop local.

For one, you don’t have to wonder if your gift will arrive in time because of shipping issues — you will already have it on hand.

And, now that the busy summer tourism season is done, it’s free to park!

Shopping in Downtown Kenosha or any of the surrounding communities is about more than just buying a present. It’s a chance to give back to the community. It’s a chance to bond with family and friends if you go out shopping together. You shop and then grab a bite to eat.

For many small shops, they need to have a good December to make it through the next five months until the summer. How the month goes can mean the difference between keeping doors open or having to close down.

Now is the time to check out the new shop in town or return to an old favorite, before it’s too late.

Yes, there are some on your list that you may need to buy a specific item for. But there is also the opportunity to buy a fun gift for a teacher or a unique hostess gift. And there are a lot of places to check out.

It’s the local businesses that sponsor Little League teams and donate silent auction items to help nonprofits.

Now is the time to give back to those local business, while finding the perfect gift for your aunt, dad and grandma at the same time. Now is the time to shop local.

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Wisconsin State Journal. November 21, 2021.

Editorial: Kyle Rittenhouse verdict sends a chilling message to Wisconsin and the rest of the country

This wasn’t the message Wisconsin or our nation needed to hear, even if the jury correctly followed the law.

Teenager Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted on all charges Friday in the fatal shootings of two people — Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26 — and the wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz, now 28, during a chaotic night in Kenosha on Aug. 25, 2020. The deadly violence followed protests, rioting and arson in response to the police shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, by a white officer.

The disappointing verdict is sure to embolden militant people who seek to take the law into their own hands. It also could increase and complicate self-defense claims if more people carry — and use — firearms in the streets. That’s a scary prospect.

But further violence in response to the verdict won’t help anyone. Our civil society must remain calm — in Kenosha, in Madison and across the country.

Rittenhouse is no hero, as some of his defenders pretend. He behaved like a vigilante and didn’t deserve to walk free, given his recklessness. Yet the law, unfortunately, skews in favor of shooters who claim self-defense. That needs to change.

Rittenhouse, then 17, wasn’t making anyone safer by parading through crowds of angry people with a semiautomatic rifle strapped to his chest and, according to prosecutors, pointing it at people before the conflict escalated.

What Rittenhouse and other gun-toting, self-appointed “protectors” of Kenosha needed to hear from our court system is that they are not the judge and jury when things go awry. The answer to unrest, including the torching of homes and vehicles, is a well-trained police force and the National Guard.

Rittenhouse, of Antioch, Illinois, only complicated the difficult job of law enforcement by showing up armed in Kenosha, where some of his relatives lived.

One of the men Rittenhouse killed (Rosenbaum) was acting odd and aggressive when Rittenhouse shot him. Another victim swung and hit Rittenhouse with a skateboard after Rosenbaum was shot. The third victim had a gun.

But Rittenhouse wasn’t an innocent bystander, and some of his victims assumed he was an active shooter who needed to be stopped, prosecutors said. Rittenhouse was engaging passersby with his abrupt and threatening behavior. Much of the case hinged on whether Rittenhouse had provoked the others. If carrying an AR-15 down a crowded street isn’t provocative, what is?

Rittenhouse even got off on a gun charge despite getting his weapon from a friend because he couldn’t legally purchase it. Blame the state Legislature, not the judge who dismissed the charge, for that.

Wisconsin law allows teenagers to carry firearms for hunting. But the statute is so convoluted that Rittenhouse’s lawyers were able to convince the judge that Rittenhouse could legally carry his long rifle in an urban setting where hunting isn’t allowed.

The Legislature must fix that law so immature people don’t cause more bloodshed. An untrained teenager with a semiautomatic weapon puts everyone — including police — at greater risk of conflict and harm.

The Legislature also should narrow the law that allows people to openly carry firearms. If Rittenhouse had not been flaunting his rifle, he wouldn’t have attracted so much attention, and this tragedy could have been avoided. It’s not like he was defending his home or property.

If Rittenhouse was justified in his actions, how does that apply if two people openly carry guns and point them at each other? Whose self-defense claim takes priority?

Our state should be discouraging standoffs with guns, rather than encouraging more people to arm themselves out of fear or revenge.

Policymakers, more than any jury, are in a position to set clear and reasonable rules.

The jury was under enormous pressure to decide a complicated case after hearing more than 30 witnesses over eight days of testimony. They had to follow the law as written and the instructions of the judge.

Did Rittenhouse face an unlawful threat that night in Kenosha, and was his use of force reasonable and necessary? The jury ultimately answered “yes,” and we respect their decision — even though we don’t like it.

Responsible citizens who want to discourage similar tragedies should pressure their elected leaders for smarter gun laws. We the people, through our democracy, must demand that this troubling saga never happens again.

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