I enjoyed reading John Anderson’s perspective concerning his recent opinion editorial where he makes a strong case for the wolf; Perhaps it is time for us to ask why one species is given a black mark beside it and another is elevated to a position of reverence. I give you the wolf and the bald eagle.”
Community Columnist for The Chippewa Herold
John Andersen: The difference between eagles and wolves Mar 3, 2018
Over the past few weeks I read some great news in several newspapers, including this one. With great fanfare it has come to pass that the bald eagle has returned from the brink of extinction. Through the use of science and facts, DDT was banned as a pesticide in 1972. The result today is that there are 1,600 occupied eagle nests in virtually every part of the state.
This is outstanding news. Using simple math, that means there are about 3,200 adult eagles around. All 72 counties have eagle nests in them, and here in Lake Hallie, eagles are becoming a more common sight. No longer do you have a take a trip “up north” or drive down to Wabasha, Minnesota, to see them in the winter months. Bald eagles are becoming a success story throughout the nation and in Wisconsin. So when does the hunting season on them start?
In consulting the literature, there are plenty of problems with having too many bald eagles. First of all, the moral character of the bald eagle is appalling. No other than Founding Father Benjamin Franklin said about bald eagles:
““For my own part, I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen the representative of our country. He is a bird of bad moral character. He does not get his living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead tree near the river, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labour of the fishing hawk; and when that diligent bird has at length taken a fish, and is bearing it to his nest for the support of his mate and young ones, the bald eagle pursues him and takes it from him.” Ben Franklin wished our national symbol to be the wild turkey, which considering what is going on in Washington right now, is not a bad idea.
Of course we have all heard the stories of bald eagles carrying off small children. Eagles also have been known to carry off pets. Bald eagles raise a holy terror with the family chickens, and of course everyone has lost fish off a line to bald eagles. Perhaps the Legislature could petition the federal government to remove the bald eagle from the endangered species list and leave the regulation of bald eagles to the state of Wisconsin and the other 49 states.
Wisconsin could then set up a lottery for hunting bald eagles. There would be no age requirement for a license, you could wear blaze pink while hunting them, and a local merchant could set up a “big eagle” contest for the largest wingspan. Yes I know that some eagles would be poached and some would not be registered, but what the heck. Stuff happens. Yes I also know that the Native Americans have legends about the eagle and revere them in tribal culture, but we can do what we have done for the wolves and give then 50 percent of the kill permits.
At this point, some people’s heads have exploded, and they are wondering what ear I am pulling this nonsense out of. Perhaps it is time for us to ask why one species is given a black mark beside it and another is elevated to a position of reverence. I give you the wolf and the bald eagle.
“But it is a funny thing, I never hear people blame bald eagles when they don’t catch any fish. Fish are the main course for them. Yet they blame wolves when they don’t shoot a deer.”
As of 2017 the Wisconsin DNR projects the wolf population in Wisconsin to be 925 or about one third as many bald eagles. Remember the same DNR also did the projections on the bald eagle count in Wisconsin. We still see TV ads and print ads featuring the wolf as the bad guy. Perhaps it is time to stop that nonsense.
The wolf and the bald eagle fit into the ecosystem for a purpose. Both are predators that thin the populations of the prey they feed on. But it is a funny thing, I never hear people blame bald eagles when they don’t catch any fish. Fish are the main course for them. Yet they blame wolves when they don’t shoot a deer.
The town of Hallie was built upon land that our ancestors called “Wolf Prairie.” The bald eagles have returned here. Maybe someday a wolf will wander through its ancestral home; hopefully it won’t be promptly shot by “accident.”
John R. Andersen of Lake Hallie is a former state employee who remains active in the fields of fire prevention, government and education.