Sunday, December 13, 2009

Wisconsin: Is cougar workshop money well spent?

By GREG PECK ( Contact )

Friday, December 11, 2009 - 11:34 a.m.

Anna Marie Lux wrote in her column Tuesday about the two-day workshop at UW-Whitewater about cougars and tracking them. Sure, Rock County had a confirmed cougar siting, but that was almost two years ago, and that animal was shot in a Chicago suburb. Another sighting was confirmed in Burnett County in northern Wisconsin, and tracks were found in Pepin County, perhaps from the same animal. Last spring came an unconfirmed sighting in the Avon-Brodhead area.

James Halfpenny of Montana and the DNR's Doug Fendry will instruct the workshop, coordinated by UW-W biology professor George Clokey. Someone asked me the other day if taxpayers are picking up the expense and if that makes sense in this economy.

Here's a response to that query that Lux got from Clokey by e-mail:

"The course has two levels of participation. If you do not want university credit, then the course fee is $150 and is used to cover the speaker fees and materials. If you want university credit, then it is just like a university course and you pay standard tuition fees. Of the amount that a student would pay the university, some of it is used to pay the speaker fees and materials. In either case, the course is covered by fees from the participants."

Clokey noted that he and Fendry are state employees, and "as part of our mission to the people of the state, we are supposed to do outreach and service. I am often called into give talks at schools or organizations like the Audubon Society and the Boy Scouts on topics like this.

"To be honest with you, the outreach part can be a lot of fun. You usually have people who are really interested in learning about your topic or excited kids. ... It also gives us a chance to put in practice the “Wisconsin Idea” as set forth by (Robert) La Follette."

For more information on the class, contact Clokey at; to register, go to and click on "Cougar Ecology and VErification Workshop."

Greg Peck


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