Wisconsin DNR decision regarding Mackenzie Center
Dane County Humane Society (DCHS) is extremely supportive of wildlife and we believe in wildlife education like what the Mackenzie Center has been providing. Wildlife rehabilitation (through the Four Lakes Wildlife Center) and welfare is a part of the core values at DCHS.
DCHS supports and encourages people to take action on things relating to animals when they can. Please be aware that the future of the Mackenzie Center is solely at the discretion of Wisconsin DNR. If you are interested in expressing your thoughts about the decision to discontinue this center please contact the DNR officials stated below.
Here is the information released by the Mackenzie Center earlier today. Please note this statement is that of the Meckenzie Center.
Dear MacKenzie Center wildlife exhibit friends and supporters,
I am writing you with the bad news that the WDNR has announced plans to shut down the MacKenzie Center in 6 months, terminating its contract with the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation/Friends of MacKenzie to run the Center. The DNR has provided no plan for the continued care or appropriate new placement of the 35 individual animals in the MacKenzie Center wildlife exhibit. As many of you know, the wildlife exhibit is home to 23 species of non-releasable native Wisconsin wildlife, including large carnivores, ungulates, and raptors. These animals require specialized diets, veterinary care, and enrichment. The six month timeline with no plan for the future of the animals is deeply troubling.
The DNR issued a press release explaining its reasoning for shutting down the MacKenzie Center (http://dnr.wi.gov/news/breakingnews_lookup.asp?id=2658). What this release does not explain is why the DNR thinks an outdoor skills center should exclude the general environmental education provided to school groups by the MacKenzie Center. The current environmental education programs could be continued in conjunction with the outdoor skills training the DNR is proposing. Without these programs, 16,000 school children every year will be deprived of a valuable environmental education experience. The net yearly cost for the DNR to continue its contract with the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation/Friends of MacKenzie is $185,000, out of the DNR’s annual $500 million budget. The MacKenzie Center is also the DNR’s cheapest environmental education center to fund, based on cost per student served.
The DNR is attempting to make these changes without any public input. This is against the DNR’s own policies, which also require a Master Plan be approved by the Natural Resources Board. The DNR has not developed a Master Plan for these changes, nor sought any input from the local community and participating schools and groups.
We need your help! Please let the DNR administration know that the MacKenzie Center contract should be extended, and a Master Plan/public meeting process should be required for major changes on the MacKenzie Center property. Please let them know the MacKenzie Center should stay open long term, continuing to provide school-based environmental education in concert with the DNR’s increased emphasis on outdoor skills (hunting, trapping, fishing) training.
Please act quickly, as the coming days and weeks will determine the future of the MacKenzie Center. Please call, write, or email the officials whose contact information is listed at the end of this email. Your voice really can make an impact: public comments to the Natural Resources Board played a crucial role in preventing the DNR from shutting the MacKenzie Center in the past and helped pave the way for the current partnership.
The MacKenzie Center is not a dying facility – it is a thriving, growing, vital environmental education facility with a dedicated and motivated staff, a vigorous Friends group, and countless community supporters. Its groups and programs have been growing and expanding to serve an ever increasing diversity of user groups. Its education curriculum has been evolving into exciting and cutting edge areas of environmental education. Its wildlife exhibit has a robust internship program, with multiple year-round interns from Wisconsin universities, eager to gain experience at a facility that focuses on natural diets and environmental enrichment for non-releasable native Wisconsin wildlife in need. Where else can a child go to build a campfire, identify prairie plants, tap a maple, go geocacheing with a GPS unit, practice archery, and look a wolf in the eye? Please help to preserve this wonderful facility for future generations and prevent a Wisconsin treasure from being destroyed.
Please spread the word to other MacKenzie Center supporters you know of, and to any and all supporters of environmental education and our native Wisconsin wildlife.