Protecting Native Forests & Wildlife
The Protecting Native Forests and Wildlife Subcommittee of the Sierra Club-John Muir Chapter is conducting a survey to determine the frequency and severity of hounding-related experiences you may have encountered where you reside. Take the survey.
Protecting Wisconsin Wolves
Over the past few years Wisconsin’s proud tradition of science-based natural resource management has been under attack. Nowhere is this more evident than in examining current wolf management policies. After investing millions over the years on grey wolf recovery which allowed it to be removed from the endangered species list in 2012, the legislature passed Act 169, one of the most aggressive wolf hunting laws in the nation. Act 169 includes a lengthy 4.5 month hunting season, allows night hunting, allows targeting of breeding females, and allows the use of dogs in wolf hunting, a practice that no other state allows due to the increased potential for closely related wolf-dog conflicts. Wisconsin is also the only state that offers $2,500 in depredation payments for each lost hunting dog killed by wolves when they are hunting bears, coyotes, or other animals. In 2013, this amounted to $56,000 in taxpayer-funded payments for a practice that arguably results from irresponsibly exposing dogs to risk.
Since Governor Walker appointed former anti-environmental State Senator and builder Cathy Stepp as Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) Secretary in 2011, the agency has become increasingly politicized. Natural Resource law enforcement is at its lowest level in over a decade, and in August 2013 the DNR eliminated the Division of Enforcement and Science and moved the Bureau of Science Services into the Office of Business and Sustainability.
The atmosphere at WDNR has influenced their implementation of wolf management policies. The WDNR has barred the Sierra Club, scientists and stakeholder groups from serving on the Wolf Advisory Committee. This has occurred despite repeated membership requests to serve which clarified the fact that our organization neither opposes sustainable hunting nor state-based management of grey wolves. They are also relying on outdated science to justify quotas which aim to reduce grey wolf populations from approximately 800 to just 350 individuals, a number that could once again imperil this iconic, native predator. In response, the Sierra Club voiced concerns about the proposed 2014-15 wolf harvest quota of 156.
The DNR promotes trophy hunting at the expense of other forms of outdoor recreation, such as running, hiking, bird-watching, and kayaking, despite the fact that these activities are on the rise. For example, the DNR is considering putting a shooting range, paintball course, and ATV trails at Sauk Prairie Recreation Area, jeopardizing grassland birds and ignoring a previous plan that emphasized low-impact recreation adopted by Sauk County and local environmental groups.
The legislature also passed Act 168, which opened up all state parks to hunting and trapping during extensive periods in spring and fall. Walker’s 2013-14 budget forces 10,000 acres of stewardship land to be sold.
Governor Walker hired James Kroll as “Deer Czar,” signed a law to eliminate DNR’s use of “Earn A Buck” to control herd sizes, even in known disease areas, and proposed allowing deer as pets. As thewhite tailed deer deer population escalates, forest regeneration (especially eastern hemlock) will decline, risking our $26 billion forest industry and 700,000 Wisconsin jobs. Kroll has made past statements in favor of private hunting preserves over public lands, and called national parks “wildlife ghettos.” Kroll favors a “passive approach” to addressing the growing threat of chronic wasting disease, an incurable, prion-based brain disease. Meanwhile Wisconsin has the second highest rate of Lyme disease, and the fastest rate of spread of Chronic Wasting Disease in the nation.
Our Wild Wisconsin’s Campaign to Protect Native Forest and Wildlife aims to restore science-based management of natural resources; ensure that a broad set of recreational uses are welcomed on public lands and waters; and protect cherished water, land, and wildlife for generations to come.
For more information click HERE