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  • Writer's picturePatrick Durkin

With Kazmierski, ‘Lost in Translation’ is Standard Communication

Greg Kazmierski, reigning chairman of Wisconsin’s Natural Resources Board, often described himself falsely the past three decades, but his most recent self-titled job description tops all previous whoppers, jaw-droppers and knee slappers.

Kazmierski dubbed himself “The Translator” while speaking April 20 at the UW-Stevens Point College of Natural Resources. His presentation came during the spring seminar series sponsored by the Wisconsin Center for Wildlife.

Quick reminders: Throughout the 1990s and 2000s — before getting himself appointed to the NRB in January 2011 by former Gov. Scott Walker — Kazmierski claimed to represent the “Wisconsin Deer Hunters Coalition” and its “thousands of members” when testifying at NRB and legislative meetings. Trouble was, he couldn’t produce membership rolls, voting records, or state-registered organization records to prove his “coalition” was anything but his imagination and a few signatures on random petitions he circulated.

Undaunted, Kazmierski next took turns claiming to represent state chapters of the NRA, Safari Club International and the National Wild Turkey Federation. That was news to those groups, however, and they disavowed or distanced themselves from him.

He remains unfazed. In his latest role as “The Translator,” Kazmierski tackles his biggest client yet: Science itself. Yes, whether you seek insights into biology, botany, geology, sociology or even astronomy, just call Kaz.

He’s The Translator.

Sigh. Will he offer an app for that, too?

Minutes into Kazmierski’s UW-SP talk, he said science is usually right, but that he’s “not real keen on models,” and sees “some real problems with models.”

He cites a bigger problem, however: College professors can’t do justice to science because they aren’t good public communicators.

“You need to know how to speak ‘Bubba,’ too,” Kazmierski advised. “I would work on your communication skills. … You may be presenting (information) to legislators who don't know the first thing about science. (It’s important) to communicate your point, not just scientifically, but so they understand. That's how I got on the Board. To be the translator.”

Yep. Who needs Aldo Leopold or UW PointyHeads like Scott Craven, Christine Thomas, Tim Van Deelen, Mike Samuel or Scott Hygnstrom to explain the wildlife sciences when you can call on Kaz to translate everything into Bubba-speak?

Granted, some academics can’t relate to everyday folks, and they do worry more about impressing colleagues than communicating with us commoners. But let’s face it: If any PointyHead — living or dead — desires a translator, none would speed-dial Kazmierski.

After all, he prefers to labor underground or behind the curtains, never leaving written or recorded details of his work as The Translator. He said so himself May 13 while addressing the Wisconsin Conservation Congress’ annual convention in Wisconsin Dells, telling the 350-plus attendees that NRB members value their input:

“Don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and give us a call,” The Translator said. “As a matter of fact, I’d prefer to communicate that way. In this litigious era we live in right now, with open records and all that kind of stuff, I’d rather you call. I’d rather just talk one on one.”

Translation: Kazmierski dislikes open records, open government, and public access to his communications when crafting policies that affect all Wisconsinites. If you doubt that, file a Freedom of Information Act request on any matter the NRB addressed since Kazmierski joined the Board 11 years ago. Of the troves of emails, memos and text messages you’ll receive, one to none will include firsthand words Kazmierski wrote. Most materials are from DNR staff discussing yet another Crazy Kaz demand made by phone or in closed-door meetings.

In his WCC talk at the Dells, The Translator also told the delegates the NRB will no longer consider any WCC resolution requiring legislation. Keep in mind, the WCC is legislatively sanctioned to advise the Natural Resources Board, which sets DNR policy.

Translation: Get lost, WCC. As NRB chair, Kaz doesn’t care that thousands of people voting on WCC resolutions each April want to send messages to legislators. He says nice things about the WCC while attending its conventions, but until he was appointed to the Board he swatted WCC members as if they were mosquitos, and routinely called the Congress the DNR’s “rubber stamp.”

Kazmierski loses things in translation, too. When a UW-SP student attending his talk asked about reduced deer harvests in recent hunting seasons, Kazmierski blamed wolves more than our declining population of deer hunters. “We lost a bunch of hunters after (finding) CWD (2002), but (their number) built back about halfway (to pre-CWD levels), and it's been stable since then within a percentage (point) or two.”

Translation: Kaz forgot he expressed similar worries about declining hunter numbers when submitting a question for April’s WCC statewide hearings. Actually, he didn’t forget. He just blamed the problem on crossbows.

As a reminder, here’s how Kazmierski prefaced his question about declines in gun-hunters: “In the last 20 years (gun) deer hunters have declined by 100,000.”

That’s a percentage or two? Not to nitpick, but gun-license sales were about 552,000 for the November 2021 season, or roughly 136,500 (-20%) fewer than the 688,540 sold in November 2001.

Those losses are huge, but as we’ve discussed for years, the reasons go far beyond CWD, crossbows and wolves.

Speaking of wolves, The Translator blames a federal judge in California for Wisconsin’s woes.

“She doesn't understand our (wolf) season,” Kazmierski told the UW-SP students. “She said the Fish and Wildlife Service should not have (returned) the wolf (to the federal Endangered Species List in November 2021) because it hasn't recovered across its entire pre-white man (European settlement) range. I could help her with that. … If she wants some wolves, we could capture a few and haul them out there.”

Translation: If a judge issues a ruling about wolves that The Translator doesn’t like, he assumes the judge must be emotional and, therefore, female.

One small problem: That senior federal district judge in northern California, an appointee of President George W. Bush, is named Jeffrey S. White. And judging by White’s official photo, his parents didn’t mistake his gender when naming him “Jeff.”

You would think a man so skilled in science as The Translator wouldn’t flub something so basic. A small detail, perhaps, but a roomful of future professors and wildlife

managers sets a high bar.

They expect and deserve near perfection from those translating their work, whether the translator is named Greg, Jeffrey or Bubba.

Greg Kazmierski, center, considers himself "the translator" of scientific information for Wisconsin legislators and the state’s policy-setting Natural Resources Board. This photo shows him addressing the annual Wisconsin Conservation Congress convention in 2013. — Patrick Durkin photo

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1 Comment

Ernie Meyer
Ernie Meyer
May 27, 2022

great article, shared to both twitter and facebook.

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