NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Union Sportsmen's Alliance introduced at the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO 26th Biennial Convention in Green Bay its first Boots on the Ground project, which has union members welding deer traps for a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources white-tailed deer study.
Union members receive intensive training through apprentice programs and represent the best in their trades. The Union Sportsmen's Alliance Boots on the Ground program connects union members who are passionate about the outdoors and willing to volunteer their time and talents with conservation projects that improve and enhance public access, wildlife habitat and outdoor experiences for communities across America. The USA will work closely with federal, state and local agencies and other conservation groups that, due to budgetary constraints and cutbacks, don't have the skilled manpower needed to complete critical projects.
"Working conditions in the U.S. have changed night and day since workers first banded together to fight for social justice. Thanks to their sacrifices, Americans now have the free time to enjoy hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities," said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. "If even a small percentage of union hunters and anglers get involved in localized conservation and access projects through the USA's Boots on the Ground program, we can make a dramatic difference, once again, and preserve an outdoor heritage worthy of passing on to our children."
The first USA Boots on the Ground project is underway in cooperation with the Wisconsin state AFL-CIO and the Wisconsin DNR. The state DNR soon will begin a 5-year study on buck recovery rate (percentage of buck mortality due to legal harvest) in Wisconsin and a 3-year study on the factors limiting fawn recruitment. To conduct the study, the DNR needs 100 netted metal cages to capture and ear tag or radio-collar male deer and collect blood samples and data from pregnant females.
The Wisconsin DNR has funding to purchase building materials for the cages but lacks the manpower and the workspace to build them. Through USA's Boots on the Ground, members of United Association Locals 400, 75 and 118, Sheet Metal Workers Local 18, and Iron Workers Locals 383 and 512 will donate their time to build deer cages through their apprentice programs or welding classes. Union members from Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons Local 599, Electrical Workers Local 159 and Fire Fighters Local 1072 will provide additional support.
"We look forward to partnering with the Union Sportsmen's Alliance on its first Boots on the Ground project," said Wisconsin DNR Secretary Matt Frank. "We appreciate the support of union members of the AFL-CIO across the state, who represent the best of Wisconsin's strong conservation heritage. By working with the DNR to preserve Wisconsin's great hunting and fishing traditions and improve our understanding of wildlife, the Union Sportsmen's Alliance is making a major contribution to our natural resources."
"The study will provide empirical estimates of adult male deer survival and cause-specific mortality rates and a greater understanding of fawn survival and recruitment as impacted by species-specific predation, winter weather and habitat conditions across Wisconsin," said WI DNR Research Scientist Chris Jacques. "By achieving more precise estimates, we will be better able to formulate appropriate harvest recommendations, thereby enabling us to more effectively manage our deer resource to meet the needs of our primary constituents - Wisconsin deer hunters."
"We appreciate the enthusiasm and support of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO and DNR in helping launch the USA's first Boots on the Ground project, and we look forward to working with other agencies and organizations on conservation projects across North America," said USA Executive Director Fred Myers. "There is no limit to what we can accomplish through collective volunteerism, community spirit and responsible citizenship-all expressions of true patriotism."
The Union Sportsmen's Alliance is a hunting and fishing organization exclusively for union members, retirees and their families working to expand and improve hunting and fishing access and habitat for all, now and in the future. Learn more atwww.unionsportsmen.org