Good morning. I’m the president of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology. WSO is a volunteer-based, nonprofit organization established in 1939, with over 1,500 members throughout Wisconsin.
Our mission is to promote the enjoyment, study and conservation of Wisconsin’s birds. We provide opportunities for people to enjoy our resident and migratory birds, while being a leading ambassador for our birds.
We were one of the first groups to acquire land in the Baraboo Hills, a preserve that is now a state natural area. Birdwatching is a huge activity in our state. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that over 1.6 million Wisconsinites enjoy watching birds at some level.
This ranges from the thousands who simply feed and enjoy the birds found in their yards, to deeply-dedicated individuals who make birds a major portion of their lives.
It’s important to recognize that birders have wide interests:
- Many birders are also campers.
- Many are hikers and amateur naturalists.
- Many birders also hunt.
- Many birders are tourists and travel widely throughout Wisconsin.
- Many birders bike.
- Many birders are nature and landscape photographers.
- Many birders also fish.
- Birders are active users of state parks, forests, recreation areas, trails, wildlife areas, fishery areas; practically all lands the Department owns and manages.
The way birders value our natural resources has much in common with other outdoor enthusiasts. But because of our focused interest in birds, we have some core priorities. Sometimes those priorities will not completely align with that of other outdoor enthusiasts.
WSO has been, and will continue to be, an advocate for our avian resources. The policies and actions of the Board and Department are of great interest to our members. Over the last two years, we have provided comments and suggestions on Department master plans, participated in the Kohler golf course environmental scoping process, participated in last year’s Wildlife Action Plan revisions, and we’re helping update the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan.
There are times we will support the Department’s initiatives and policies, times that we will offer suggestions, and there will be times when we will criticize changes that you are considering. This is all done, however, with the intent of constructive input. I appreciate the chance to introduce you to the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology. And I look forward to our ongoing involvement with the Department and the Board.
WSO President Michael John Jaeger made this presentation to the Natural Resources Board of Wisconsin on May 25, 2016.