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Bill Cosh
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608-267-2773

State Natural Resources Board appoints five members of new Sporting Heritage Council

News Release Published: February 27, 2013 by the Central Office

Contact(s): Bill Cosh - DNR spokesperson, 608-267-2773

MADISON -- The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board has appointed five members to the new Sporting Heritage Council, the first of its kind to advise Gov. Scott Walker, the Natural Resources Board and state legislature on fishing, hunting and trapping issues.

The council, established by 2011 Wis. Act 168, will largely focus on recruitment, retention and increasing access to resources and outdoor opportunities.

The council consists of 12 appointees, including the Department of Natural Resources secretary or a designee, one member appointed by the governor, two members of the Assembly, two members of the Senate, one member appointed by the Wisconsin Conservation Congress executive committee and the five members recently appointed by the Natural Resources Board.

The members appointed by the board were chosen to represent five distinct interests, including deer hunting, bear hunting, bird hunting, angling, and furbearer hunting or trapping. Individuals were self-nominated or were nominated by an organization which represents these interests.

The Natural Resources Board's appointments are the first to be made. They include the following individuals representing the associated interest areas:

  • Deer, Ralph Fritsch - Fritsch is Past President and a long-standing member of Wisconsin Wildlife Federation (WWF). He serves as chair of WWF's Wildlife Committee, comprised of members of statewide and local hunting and trapping organizations. Fritsch is an avid deer hunter, has represented deer hunters on numerous DNR committees and has served with the Wisconsin Conservation Congress representing three counties. Fritsch is an advocate for public access and youth involvement in outdoor recreation.
  • Game Birds, Mark LaBarbera -LaBarbera is an avid upland bird and waterfowl hunter with extensive experience in the private and public sectors, having worked with the outdoor industry, outdoor media, tourism, national and international conservation organizations and fish and wildlife agencies. LaBarbera has experience in collaborative conservation efforts and best practices in hunter recruitment and outdoor education.
  • Angling, Benjamin Gruber - A lifelong outdoorsman and active volunteer, Gruber brings a diversity of experience to the table. He has leadership experience in agricultural organizations and fire rescue. As a volunteer with Kids and Mentors Outdoors and with "Healing with Horses," a therapeutic horseback riding program for special needs children, Gruber has interest in mentoring and recruiting youth in outdoor activities.
  • Bear, Andy Pantzlaff - As a board member of the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, United Sportsmen of Wisconsin, and other conservation groups, Pantzlaff has worked to further advance bear hunting as an outdoor activity and as an important management tool in the state. He is interested in strengthening the state's outdoor heritage through youth involvement and recruiting women into hunting.
  • Furbearer, Scott Zimmerman - Serving as Vice President of Wisconsin Trappers Association, and active involvement in Fur Takers of America and National Trappers Association, Zimmerman has valuable experience and insight on furbearer related issues.

"We believe our first 5 selections to the Sporting Heritage Council represent some of the state's top advocates for recruitment and retention," stated Natural Resources Board Chair Preston Cole. "However, it was not an easy decision. There were many qualified people in our selection process. We send our sincere thanks to all who applied."

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Last Revised: Wednesday, February 27, 2013