Category Archives: Coexistence with wildlife

Researcher found that nearly one-third of the diet of the wolves studied consisted of dump sites on nearby farms…

Dumping cattle carcasses is illegal in Michigan and Wisconsin. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that leaving carcasses in the woods, especially in wolf range, will attract wild carnivores. It’s just plain and simple common sense practice to dispose of livestock properly. Properly disposing of dead livestock also helps prevent the spread of diseases.

It can also be a lesson well learned as in the following story told to me a couple years ago by a woman living in wolf range. I was talking with a woman that lives in the country with a resident wolf pack nearby. I asked her if she had seen any signs of them lately, and she said she hasn’t seen them, but knows they are nearby. Then, she told me her tragic story. They had two dogs, one young and one older, and recently lost the older dog because of a mistake they made. She told me that they dumped their food scraps in a pit in the woods down behind their house; That one day she came out to the garage to find the young dog cowering in the corner. Then, she heard the older dog let out a screech from the pit out behind the house. She ran to the pit, looked down into the woods, and there was no sight of the older dog. They looked but never found a trace of him. They did find wolf tracks though. I asked them if they reported the incident to the DNR and she said no because it was their fault. She said they stopped dumping food scraps in the pit in the woods behind their house. They understand their mistake and tragically too late for their older dog. They live in wolf range and are also farmers. They also respect wolves and understand their place in the ecosystem.

Recently…Research In Upper Peninsula Finds Dumped Livestock Is Changing Predatory Behavior

A study led by Tyler Petroelje, a wildlife researcher and doctoral candidate at Mississippi State University, tracked the feeding behaviors of eight wolves from two packs in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. This research was part of a broader predator-prey study that investigated a variety of factors that affect deer populations in the region. As reported by Great Lakes Echo, the study suggested that dumping cow carcasses alters wolf behavior.

In the North Woods of Wisconsin and Michigan, a wolf’s natural diet typically consists of deer and beaver, Petroelje explained. But he found that nearly one-third of the diet of the wolves studied consisted of cattle carcasses from dump sites on nearby farm

The following is recommendations for disposing of dead livestock from Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture

Livestock Carcass Disposal

Disposing of livestock carcasses is an important part of animal agriculture. Wisconsin law says that carcasses must be properly disposed of within 24 hours from April through November and within 48 hours from December through March.

Rendering, burial, burning and landfilling have been the typical means of disposal, but these are becoming less and less practical. Burial and burning create biosecurity hazards and threats to water and air quality. Rendering remains the best choice to protect the environment, public health, and animal health, but it is becoming more expensive and less available.

Cattle carcasses in particular are becoming more difficult and expensive to send to rendering because of federal regulations. The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates animal feed and pet foods, now prohibits using parts from cattle 30 months or older in any food for animals unless the spinal cord and brain are first removed.

We recommend composting carcasses to overcome these problems. Remember that composting is an active process.

Putting a carcass in the woods or on the back 40 to rot and/or be eaten by scavengers is not composting and:

• Risks disease transmission to your livestock and your neighbors’, and to wildlife.

• May contaminate water sources – including your well and your neighbors’ wells.

• Invites vermin and pests, including coyotes, that may transmit disease and prey on your livestock.

• Alienates neighbors and generally casts farmers in a bad light.

• Is illegal.

Killing is Not Conservation…

…The idea that only man is equipped for conserving our planet’s natural resources is a dying concept; dying right along with the untold numbers of wild sentient beings killed in the name of conservation. Such problems drive home a critical flaw in the paradigm of conserving wildlife. In the state of Wisconsin alone coyotes are hunted year round because they’re considered vermin that need to be exterminated. It’s about time we work towards changing the paradigm of killing to conserve. It’s going to take a major shift in thinking that will require opening up lines of communication between the general public; specifically with interests in conserving our natural resources for future generations to come. It’s not about numbers. It’s about sentient beings sharing our planet, and how we can coexist for the benefit of all living upon Mother Earth.

Changing the paradigm from killing to compassionate conservation is a major shift in thinking…

“Let me first briefly note what compassionate conservation is not. The easiest way to summarize this topic is to say that compassionate conservation isn’t “welfarism gone wrong.”” Marc Bekoff from: Compassionate Conservation Matures and Comes of Age.


More from Compassionate Conservation Matures and Comes of Age by Marc Bekoff Traditional conservation science is ethically challenged and conservation has had a very bloody past and continues to do so. Of course, this does not mean that conservation biologists are cold-blooded killers who don’t care about the well-being of animals, but rather that the problems that are faced throughout the world, most brought on by human intervention in the lives of other animals, are challenging to the point of being daunting. Often, it seems as if the only and easiest solution is to kill the “problem animals” and move on to the next situation, in a never-ending series of conflicts. However, killing simply does not work in the long run. And, of course, as numerous people have pointed out, it is ethically indefensible.

Compassionate conservation also doesn’t allow for people to play what I call the “numbers game.” Claims that go something like, “There are so many members of a given species it’s okay to kill other members of the same species” are not acceptable. With its focus on the value of the life of each and every individual, no single animal is disposable because there are many more like them.

“Killing to save: We really don’t want to kill others animals but…Compassionate conservation also is not concerned with finding and using the “most humane” ways of killing other animals, so killing animals “softly” is not an option, because it’s inarguable that killing individuals in the name of conservation remains incredibly inhumane on a global scale.” Marc Bekoff

What is Compassionate Conservation?

Populations of animals are not homogenous, abstract entities, but comprise unique individuals – in the case of sentient animals, each with its own desires and needs and a capacity to suffer.

Animal welfare as a science and a concern, with its focus on the individual animal, and conservation biology and practice, which has historically focussed on populations and species, have tended to be considered as distinct. However, it is becoming clear that knowledge and techniques from animal welfare science can inform and refine conservation practice, and that consideration of animal welfare in a conservation context can lead to better conservation outcomes, while engendering increased stakeholder support. From Compassionate Conservation website

Changing the paradigm from killing to compassionate conservation is a major shift in thinking. How can we begin to change from killing to compassionate conservation? It begins locally, in local communities, by opening the conversations at public meetings. More to come on this topic…


Featured image from

Wisconsin’s wolf management policy is down-right-hostile

Wolf recovery in Wisconsin began in the late 1970s, and after almost forty years, is still ruled by aggressive hunting conservation policies of; kill-them-to-conserve-them. 

“Increasing human tolerance of large carnivores may be the best way to save these species from extinction,” said co-researcher William Ripple…Also, more large protected areas are urgently needed for large carnivore conservation.”

Just how bad is it?  

Six of the world’s large carnivores have lost more than 90% of their historic range, according to a study, BBC News.  The research, published in Royal Society Open Science, was carried out by Christopher Wolf and William Ripple of Oregon State University. Range Contractions of the World’s Large Carnivores

Victor, a tiger freed from a poacher’s snare by WCS and government response team specialists, is released back into the wild. Photo by John Goodrich, WCS. Siberian Tiger Project
The researchers say re-wilding programmes will be most successful in regions with low human population density, little livestock, and limited agriculture. Additionally, regions with large networks of protected areas and favourable human attitudes toward carnivores are better suited for such schemes.”Increasing human tolerance of large carnivores may be the best way to save these species from extinction,” said co-researcher William Ripple.

“Also, more large protected areas are urgently needed for large carnivore conservation.”

When policy is favourable, carnivores may naturally return to parts of their historic ranges. BBC News

Wisconsin’s political-atmosphere regarding favourable policy is lacking; even down-right-hostile in its management of wolves. 

In Wisconsin, there are 925 wild wolves sharing the landscape with people in the northern & central forest areas.  Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association (WBA) continues to push for a trophy hunting of wolves. In 2015 WBA worked at Loosening regulations for bear hunters using dogs in pursuit of bear. Because of that change it’s impossible to know; just how many dogs in pursuit of bear are running through the woods.  

During the 2016 Wisconsin bear hunting season 37 hunting dogs were lost in the pursuit of bear. In 2017 $99, 400.00 was paid for hounds killed in pursuit of bear, 2016 training & Hunting season, according to the Wisconsin annual wolf depredations payout summary. Did the Wisconsin wolf depredation program reimburse bear hunters who knowingly ran their hunting dogs through WDNR wolf caution areas

Considering the decades of conflict between bear hunters and wolves; is this becoming harassment of an endangered species.  Isn’t this illegal? 

Delisting of Wisconsin’s wild wolf means certain death for this iconic predator, as Wisconsin is the only state that allows hunters to use unleashed packs of dogs to hunt wolves. Wolf hounding fact sheet.

Conservation of large carnivores over the last century has been one of: kill-them-to-conserve ethic. An example of this conservation policy Wisconsin law, 2011 Wisconsin Act 169; “If the wolf is not listed on the federal endangered list and is not listed on the state endangered list, the department shall allow the hunting and trapping of wolves and shall regulate such hunting and trapping as provided in this section and shall implement a wolf management plan. In regulating wolf hunting and trapping, the department may limit the number of wolf hunters and trappers and the number of wolves that may be taken by issuing wolf harvesting licenses.”

Action Alert! Anti-Wolf Riders in House Bill Funding Dept of Interior. We need to make our voices heard and let our politicians know that this bill, along with these anti-wolf riders, is not acceptable. Coexistence, not killing, should be the goal of wolf recovery. Our wolves deserve a better fate than the death sentences our legislators are proposing.

Wisconsin’s large carnivores are being aggressively managed through hunting policies that are impacting black bears. In a research paper “Consumption of intentional food subsidies by a hunted carnivore” Human food subsidies make up more than 40% of the diet of bears in northern Wisconsin. This consumption of human food subsidies, baiting, is negatively impacting the black bear population in Wisconsin. An estimated four million gallons of bait is dropped in Wisconsin’s forests by bear hunters starting in April through mid September. 

The researchers found that: “Female consumption of high caloric food subsidies can increase fecundity (the ability to produce an abundance of offspring or new growth; fertility), and can train cubs to seek bear baits. Long-term supplementation can increase a population above its ecological carrying capacity. Further, Wisconsin, humans are influencing the ecosystem not only through top-down forces via hunting, but also through bottom-up forces by subsidizing the food base. Researcers’ findings emphasize the need to understand what effects conservation and management strategies that feature human subsidies can have on wildlife, particularly how they alter behavior, population sizes, and demographic parameters.” 

Wisconsin, humans are influencing the ecosystem not only through top-down forces via hunting…

Is it possible to move conservation policy from a killing to conserve to a compassionate ethic? There’s a movement towards compassionate conservation that I hope Wisconsin can adopt. Compassionate conservation policy developed by Born Free Foundation “​Guiding principles; First, do no harm as a commitment to prioritising non-invasive approaches in conservation research and practice, and an acknowledgement that invasive interventions may harm individuals, populations, and ecosystems. Individuals matter in conservation research and practice, not merely as units of species and populations, and should be treated with compassion both in the wild and in captivity Valuing all wildlife as worthy of conservation effort, whether native or introduced, whether common or rare, and regardless of perceived usefulness to humans.” 2017 Compassionate Conservation Convention is Being held in Sydney, Australia on November 20-24, 2017.

Wolf recovery in Wisconsin began in the late 1970s, and after almost forty years, is still ruled by aggressive hunting conservation policies of; kill-them-to-conserve-them.  Isn’t it time for Wisconsin’s wolf management plan to move forward into a new age; that supports increasing human tolerance of large carnivores. 

Trophic Cascades are powerful indirect interactions that can control entire ecosystems. Trophic cascades occur when predators limit the density and/or behavior of their prey and thereby enhance survival of the next lower trophic level.

Featured image from Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources 

Action Alert! Anti-Wolf Riders in House Bill Funding Dept of Interior

Our politicians are once again using wolves as political pawns and resuming their seemingly relentless assault against them. On Wednesday a House Panel approved a bill funding the Department of Interior and the EPA. This bill contains 2 highly toxic riders which would undermine 40 years of recovery and jeopardize the future of wolves.

The first rider would strip all federal protections of wolves in the Great Lakes region (Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan) and allow trapping and hunting to resume after it was put on hold in 2014 by a federal judge. The rider would also preclude any further judicial review of this overturned court order.

“Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.” -Albert Einstein

The second rider would prevent any money from being spent on federal recovery efforts of wolves in other parts of the country – the Mexican gray wolf in the southwest, the red wolf in North Carolina, and the 2 wolf packs that just resettled in California, to name a few.

We need to make our voices heard and let our politicians know that this bill, along with these anti-wolf riders, is not acceptable. Coexistence, not killing,  should be the goal of wolf recovery. Our wolves deserve a better fate than the death sentences our legislators are proposing.

“Animals should not require our permission to live on earth. Animals were given the right to be here long before we arrived.” -Anthony Douglas Williams

Please take a few minutes to call or email your Congressional Representative and US Senators. Links to contact your legislators are here:

US Senate:

House of Representatives:

To read more on the House bill:



Changing Perceptions by Planting Seeds of Compassion

Changing the perceptions of people who have negative views of wolves begins with dialogue. If we want to change this negative to a positive perception we must open the dialogue, and engage, ask questions, and plant seeds – seeds of compassion that will grow into new perceptions of valuing the role wolves play in balancing the ecosystem.

“You only have one way to convince others – listen to them.” – George Washington

Trying to change negative perceptions by demeaning, insulting, and shouting down the other side won’t get us anywhere, and will most likely only harden their resolve. Think of how we feel when an anti-wolf voice makes derogatory comments about wolves or wolf advocates – it just makes us angrier and widens the divide.

“The most powerful way to win an argument is by asking questions. It can make people see the flaws in their logic.” -Unknown

It can be extremely difficult not to scream angrily back when we see injustices to those animals we fight so hard to protect. I travel to Yellowstone to watch wolves and follow their lives on a daily basis. I have come to know these wolves on a personal level – their different personalities, their families, their successes and hardships. When one of them is killed, especially by the hand of man, it breaks my heart.

When I learned of the poaching of the 12-year-old Canyon pack alpha female earlier this year, my gut reaction was to hurl insults at  the anti-wolf crowd. I was angry and hurt, and I wanted to hurt back. In my heart, I knew this wouldn’t help the wolves at all; in fact, in the long run, it might be more detrimental. I also realized that this would be going against the basic philosophy of Compassionate Conservation – “first do no harm”. If I truly believe that, it also means showing compassion towards those with whom I wholeheartedly disagree by raising a voice in compassion for all beings. 

 “You cannot force someone to comprehend a message that they are not ready to receive. Still, you must never underestimate the power of planting a seed.” – Unknown

If we want to see the end of the persecution and hatred of wolves, we must sow the seeds of compassion and knowledge; nurturing the seeds of compassionate conservation will lead to valuing the wolf as part of the natural world. 


“We all make choices about where to live and need to take into account the lives of the animals we’ve affected or are going to bother when we redecorate their homes.” ~Marc Bekoff Ph.D. 

Source: Being “Mad About Wildlife” and Redecorating Nature
Marc Bekoff Ph.D. 

Animal Emotions

Coexistence with animals means living peacefully together.

Posted Jun 05, 2012

I’m constantly being asked about how to survive with the animals into whose homes we’ve wantonly trespassed as we incessantly redecorate nature. More and more people say they want to “return to nature” and live among other animals, but many decide that actual co-existence comes at too much of a cost when the animals become “pests.” So, the human intruders (and we are indeed an invasive species) decide how they’re going to share space and far too often the native residents or those who have moved in and lived in a particular area for years on end – the animals themselves – get the short end of the stick, so to speak, as they’re relocated, trapped, poisoned, or shot.
As the very animals who were at first attractive become annoying they’re treated as disposable things rather than as living beings. The Humane Society of the United States along with many other organizations has long been interested in the “problem” of urban and suburban wildlife and a new publication called “Living with Wild Neighbors in Urban and Suburban Communities” is now available. A snippet from their introduction is very informative:
“In recent decades, our cities and suburbs have grown and taken over rural areas. Many wild species take advantage of conditions they find—the conditions we created.
“We unwittingly created ideal habitat in our cities and suburbs for many wild species. If you could ask a Canada goose what the perfect place to live looked like, she would describe a golf course. While we think of white-tailed deer as forest dwellers, they actually prefer edge habitat—places where woods meets open areas, common in modern suburbs and along our highways.
“City dwellers and suburbanites usually have limited experience with wildlife before an issue comes up. They often don’t understand why a problem occurs and rarely have experience with similar conflicts. They look for an easy “silver bullet” solution which almost never exists.
“A common misconception is that getting rid of the animals will get rid of the problem. The reality is that nature abhors a vacuum: Removing animals simply allows the remaining animals to reproduce more successfully and invites more in to fill the empty space. Effective solutions need to address the conditions that attract animals into conflict with us.”
This particular publication deals mainly with human conflicts with Canada geese who sometimes are poisoned or shot because they poop on golf courses, white-tailed deer, beavers, and coyotes, but there’s no dearth of information available for how to coexist humanely and ethically with many other urban dwellers (see also and and and). 
We all make choices about where to live and need to take into account the lives of the animals we’ve affected or are going to bother when we redecorate their homes. Many neighborhoods show concern for their local fauna. A few weeks ago on a bicycle ride up to the small town of Jamestown outside of Boulder, Colorado, I saw a sign about the local foxes asking drivers and cyclists to slow down so that the foxes would be safe. It’s still there and many people have told me about it as well. And the town of Superior, Colorado has formed a partnership with California-based Project Coyote to promote a project for peaceful coexistence of people with coyotes.
I’ve also had a few close encounters of the lion kind, on three occasions finding myself within touching distance of a cougar. I survived these encounters and frankly don’t need to meet another cougar up close and personal.
I’ve also had black bears try to enter my house and keep me confined inside because they liked hanging out on my outdoor porch. One large male bear had the audacity to leave a huge pile of poop near my front door because I’d asked him to leave so I could get to the airport on time. Another large male casually walked on to my porch as I was eating dinner. He was about 6 feet away so I ran into my house and closed the screen door and he walked over and tried to slide it open. I told him that this was my dinner as I slid the glass door closed and he walked off as if nothing had happened. I didn’t think my vegan fare would be of interest. I got a nice picture of him leaving and sauntering slowly to a house down the road where he immediately went to sleep under a hammock.
That’s the way it is where I and many others choose to live, and I welcome my wild neighbors to come back anytime. I love seeing them and knowing they’re around. Nonetheless, I’ve had to change my habits from time to time but that’s because I’ve chosen to live in their living rooms. As I write this essay there’s a beautiful mama bear and her two cubs living around my house. She’s been around for at least 2 years. Just yesterday 2 other adults joined her and now there are 5 gorgeous bears hanging out on their land. All of the people on my road are incredibly excited to have these magnificent bear beings around and we constantly share photos and videos about their meanderings.
Part of rewilding ourselves and our hearts is to embrace the animals with whom we share space and time and appreciate that when we have to change our ways it’s an indication that we know we are indeed sharing space with other beings who care very much about what happens to them, their family, and their friends. If you’re not willing to make these changes and you choose to ignore nature then perhaps it’s best not to live where magnificent animals roam and try to survive. I’ve often asked realtors to be up front with people when showing them homes or lots where wild animals live. 

But, I’m “mad about wildlife”

People often tell me they’re “mad about wildlife” and I’ve come to see that this phrase has a double meaning. When people say they’re mad about wildlife and love wild animals and then harm them, often causing intense suffering and death, I always say I’m glad they’re not mad about me. Our fickleness causes great harm and it’s an arrogant and anthropocentric double-cross to choose to move into areas where wild animals are known to live and then compromise their lives.
I find it challenging to figure out how to coexist with my wild neighbors so we can all live safely and in peace and I know many others do too. We can learn a lot about other animals and ourselves when we appreciate just who our wild neighbors are. Youngsters can learn valuable lessons about other animals and other nature as well. We can all be Companions in Wonder as we share experiences and explore our wonderful planet. Source


Featured image by Bill Lea