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US Sec. Ryan Zinke visits Wisconsin, talks about combating opioid abuse on reservations

Ryan Zinke

WISCONSIN -- A member of President Donald Trump's cabinet took a break from the hustle and bustle of Washington to visit Wisconsin. U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Tuesday, March 20 a partnership between the United States and our sovereign nations is necessary to ending opioid abuse.

Before heading to the Oneida Nation, Zinke spent the morning at the Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area.

"It's just nice to be out of Washington, with real people for a while," Zinke said.

Zinke met with partners of the hunting and fishing industry, presenting a check for nearly $35 million to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Ryan Zinke

"This next year we're going to rebuild our parks system, rebuild our wildlife refuges, and reorganize for stewardship, in looking at wildlife corridors, water sheds," said Zinke.

The great outdoors, though, wasn't the only reason Zinke visited the Badger State Tuesday.

"The statistics will say that as far as number of deaths go, Indian nations have a higher rate of drug and opioid [related deaths]," Zinke said.

Zinke traveled to the Oneida Indian Reservation near Green Bay, to meet with tribal leaders and join forces to fight the opioid crisis.

"We have a task force that we're coordinating with the tribal police to go after the heart of the issue, which is the drug dealers," Zinke said.

Zinke said resources will be provided from the U.S. Department of the Interior to help the sovereign nation target those dealers.

Ryan Zinke

"Clearly the number of deaths each month is at crisis level. The president has made it a priority about combating opioids across the board. That's awareness, treatment, going after the drug dealers, and right down to the schools," Zinke said.

Zinke emphasized the importance of educating the public on the toll this epidemic will continue to take if nothing is done about it.

President Donald Trump visited New Hampshire Monday, March 19 to unveil his anti-opioid abuse plan. In it, he is calling for stricter sentencing laws for drug dealers, including the death penalty for the most serious offenders.