Opinion: Why the Wolf?

Canis lupus italicus, cuccioli che guardano – Photo by Antonio Iannibelli

This is the question I hear most often from those who know me and are amazed that all of a sudden I am dealing with wolves. In fact, I teach English and my life has been oriented towards other goals after having searched in vain for a way to study and graduate in a subject, Ethology, which in Turin in 1980 still resonated like a whimsy of the” flower children”. But certain things “go around immense and then come back”, so many years have passed, and after Milla died – a crossbreed very similar to a wolf and my guiding spirit for 10 years – from 2013 I started doing anthropological and naturalistic research, to understand better the behavior of these magical creatures who, in the meantime, have come back to the Alps and now populate the woods of my house, in Val di Susa.

Alps, Valle di Susa, Italy – Photo by Brunella Pernigotti

Since then, the more I get into the study of wolves, the more I realize that the atavistic bond that binds us is made up of much deeper and inherent elements in both our natures, which are so similar and parallel. Wolves are our alter ego, they are the mirror in which men see themselves and find their roots, for better or for worse. Our society tends to disconnect us from nature and its laws, deluding ourselves that we can control everything on earth, under the sea, in the sky. Human history has only ever taken and consumed the Earth, the wolf now represents an obvious obstacle and is here to tell us: Enough!

The distorted image we have of these creatures is due to many factors, ancient and modern. We have forgotten it, but there are populations still strongly linked to the Earth, who respect and consider its creatures as our teachers. The wolf has taught us not only the techniques of hunting, but also the strategies of encirclement, charge and attack, which men have used in their military actions for centuries. Now the question that prompts me to investigate is: why do we maintain such a difficult and contradictory relationship with this species? Maybe because wolves are predators, considered rather dangerous, but not enough to revere them and elevate them to the rank of the most noble (always according to a human evaluation) felines such as the lion or the tiger?… We tear our clothes off if a hunter kills a lion in distant Africa, but we let the most important remaining predators, those at the top of the perfect natural trophic mechanism of our regions, be hunted, tortured, or poisoned in our home. Why? Do we think that wolves are bad dogs? Why do we have the right to judge them instead of simply accepting them? Would we perhaps like to erase with them that wild part that we know is in ourselves? …

These are open questions. But, I repeat, I am sure of one thing: that we are disconnected, detached from our own roots, so we no longer realize that the world we have created is falling into a chasm full of plastic and pollutants, where the natural habitats no longer exist, not only for the rest of creatures, but also for us. Recreating environments, where free and uncontaminated nature reigns, is a gift that we should give to us and to the future generations. Each creature has its own role in the ecosystem, whether we want it or not. Unfortunately, we have already lost thousands of species that have become extinct through our fault, because we do not want to change our attitude and we believe that we are right, yet we do not realize that we become poorer, (and sicker), every time we cut down a plant, or a forest disappears, or we kill a living creature for no reason. As Jane Goodall says: let’s try to consider wolves, and other animals, as sentient beings, who are capable of feeling joy, pain, fear, love. And I think: like us, they are affectionate and, within their pack, they take care of each other; they too are competitive and territorial, so they defend their borders and can attack and kill if other alien wolves threaten their lands; finally, they have to feed their offspring so, to get food, they use the weapons they are equipped with: fangs, physical strength, but also intelligence and flexibility. The differences with humans do not seem so many to me.

Undoubtedly the presence of the wolf is uncomfortable and in Europe, where the natural territory has now been almost completely modified and domesticated, this problem is particularly felt, but the solution cannot be to erase them from the face of the Earth. Simple common sense should suggest that by doing so, we would create a dangerous void in the ecosystem that could be immediately filled by another species or which could lead to a significant loss of balance in the “natural system”. So we must commit ourselves to change attitudes, trying to dialogue with all the parties involved, putting aside prejudices and entrenched positions. Thinking of being on the side of reason and expecting “others” to change their opinion will lead nowhere. It takes willpower, humility and open-mindedness to meet, look each other into the eyes and talk, bearing in mind that each person counts and can make a difference: who has the courage to change, will change the world. Only an empathic, intelligent and wise approach will help us to find together a solution that leads to the peaceful coexistence of all creatures.

Finally, I love to remember that every wolf is an individual, with its own story, even if often there is no one to tell it. Theirs are stories of heroes without medals, of difficulties and risks, of kilometers traveled, of courage, of death and of hope. Stories of love, of atavistic wisdom, of hiding places, of air and howled stars, magical stories we can read in the depths of their eyes. Let’s make sure that the green flame, the same that Aldo Leopold saw in that gaze, does not go out.

Wolf Management: Can Wisconsin get it right this time around?

First, do no harm as a commitment to prioritising non-invasive approaches in conservation research and practice,… One of the guiding principles of Compassionate Conservation

Photograph credit John E Marriott

That’s the million dollar question many Wisconsinites are asking. Will Wisconsin get it right this time around? The grey wolf was officially off the Endangered Species List on January 4, 2021 and pro hunt legislators and hunters began the push to re-establish a recreational wolf hunt in February 2021! Thankfully Wisconsin’s tribes spoke up for thier brother “Ma’iingan” the wolf and the Natural Resources Board voted NO to an early February wolf hunt.

The following is from NPR article on today’s NRB hearing.

Board member Marcy West questioned whether a hunt would be worth risking the state’s relationships with tribes and other organizations, as well as state management of the wolf. 

“I just really have a concern that we have to prove right now that the state is credible in managing the population,” said West. 

Much of the concern discussed by the board revolved around the state’s obligations to Wisconsin tribes.

Representatives of the Red Cliff, Menominee, Lac Courte Oreilles, Bad River and Lac du Flambeau tribes urged the board not to hold a wolf hunt this winter. Several referenced a 1983 court ruling known as the Voigt Decision that affirms tribal rights to hunt, fish and gather in ceded territory under treaties with the federal government. Under the ruling, the state must consult with tribes on natural resource management.

“In making any decision about wolves, the department must abide by the requirements to consult and collaborate with the tribes as set forth in court decisions and agreements,” said Mic Isham, executive administrator with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Tribal officials said the hunt would have a detrimental impact on the wolf population in Wisconsin. Tribal members, including Red Cliff tribal elder Marvin Defoe, said they view the wolf as a brother and that the animal is significant to their cultural and religious practices. 

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… —Compassionate Conservation Ethics. Born Free Foundation

Watch the Wisconsin’s DNR Natural Resources Board special meeting. This is the webcast of the January 22, 2021 special meeting of the Natural Resources Board. To the right are links to this month’s Board agenda and the Board website. Below is a list of each item on this month’s agenda. To view the webcast for a specific agenda item, click on the text for that item, then scroll up if needed and click the X in the upper right corner. The Natural Resources Board and Department of Natural Resources are committed to serving people with disabilities. If you need Board information in an alternative format, please email or call: Laurie J. Ross, Board Liaison Laurie.Ross@wisconsin.gov 608.267.7420 — Read on dnrmedia.wi.gov/main/Play/731c92f70bb84be69b8f69ef1ccbb99c1d

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.

Grey wolves were hunted in 2013 by the use of dogs. Wisconsin is the only state the allows hunters to track and trail wolves with dogs.

“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 roughly around 1000 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? Especially when they are listed as an endangered species?

In January 4, 2021 the Grey wolf became officially off the ESL. 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.

Fresh off the ESL Wisconsin’s grey wolf was brutally hunted , trapped and chased down by wolf hunter’s dogs in 2012-2014 until a federal judge ordered them back on the list.

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.”

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.

A young black bear cub at a hunter’s bait.

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…

One of the pro wolf hunt legislators pushing to re-establish the hunt was interviewed in a Wisconsin Public Television Show in 2010 regarding conflict between bear hunters and wolves

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.

Preview – Ma’iingan: Brother Wolf

This new film from Wisconsin Public Television captures enduring spiritual connections with Brother Wolf, the lasting bonds and responsibilities shared between native people and the wolf species, and the opportunities and challenges presented by the reintroduction and protection of the animals across reservation lands. Click here to view film on PBS website

People & Wolves Talk Show Explores the Concepts of “Compassionate Conservation”

Photograph credit John E Marriott

Our next show will be all about Compassionate Conservation.
Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin believes Compassionate Conservation is the future, developed first by Born Free Foundation.
The following Compassionate Conservation concepts are from Born Free Foundation.

Our host Alexander Vaeth

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
Peaceful coexistence with wildlife is the ultimate aim guiding compassionate conservation practices.

Continue reading People & Wolves Talk Show Explores the Concepts of “Compassionate Conservation”

Compassionate Conservation—Saving The Lives of Wild Carnavore and Livestock

Real world solutions to using non lethal wolf management for people and wild Carnavore.

I’ve been a volunteer for Wisconsin’s wolf recovery since 1998. There were only 66 wolf packs in the state at that time. Today there are roughly 232 wolf packs spread through the northern and central forests. Thankfully wolf and livestock conflicts are at a minimum, and there are many non lethal solutions available for livestock producers to employ. There are many factors involved, and employing them as soon ass possible is being proactive. There are several abatements available, such as; Foxlights a nighttime predator deterrent, flandry, and guard animals. These solutions need to be put in place before wolf depredation occurs to any livestock. And it’s important that livestock producers burry any livestock so the carcasses don’t attract wolves.

One very important step to coexistence for people & gray wolves is to educate and advocate by helping & educating those living in wolf country. The objective is to save the lives of Gray wolves and livestock. Whether we live in the city or urban areas, in or out of wolf range, it’s all about solving how we live alongside wolves! Wisconsin’s wild wolf is back on the landscape, and has been since the late 1970s. The Gray wolf is an essential part of the ecosystem. Let’s work together to save Gray wolves and livestock!

I’m a distributor of Foxlights a nighttime predator deterrent.

The following is a short video I filmed of Brad Khole WDNR Wildlife Damages Specialist.

Click here for more reading about ways to reduce conflicts between wolves and Livestock owners.

Wisconsin’s Elusive Gray Wolf Deserves Our Protection…

In the late 1970s wolf Recovery in Wisconsin began. The Gray wolf made a comeback after being eradicated through hunting and trapping in Wisconsin. It wasn’t long before hunting special interests groups began their bid to get Wisconsin’s Gray wolf delisted. Sadly after 40 years of recovery these special interests (Fringe hunters) hunting groups got their way. In the state of Wisconsin the Gray wolf is hunted (2012-2014) for a fireplace rug & mounted as a trophy when he’s not listed on the Endangered Species Act. He was delisted in 2012 and his domestic relative, the dog, was used to track and trail him until a federal judged ordered the Gray wolf back on the ESL in December 2014. Today Wisconsin’s Gray wolf is facing multiple delisting threats in congress backed by special interests; wanting the Gray Wolf’s habitat for oil & gas, lumbering, and the Gray wolf himself for trophy hunting.

U.S. House Passes Bill To De-List Wolves From Endangered Species.

We must make it right…get it right…before we lose everything…the wolf is a social animal just like we are…they depend on family for survival…so do we as human-beings…

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.

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…

Through my mind’s eye memories flow through the years spent within the Gray Wolf’s range in Wisconsin’s northern forests in Douglas county starting in the year 2000. There you’ll find vast wilderness of forests and barrens where the Gray wolf resides.

Do you think there’s room for the Gray wolf? The following video was shot 2 summers ago in 2015. This landscape is found on a 15 mile long remote gravel road in northern Wisconsin. Do you think there’s room for the wolf?

Last summer, 2018, I visited this same area (in the video) with friend Elke Duerr and who’s filming in the photograph.

When I began helping to monitor Wisconsin’s Gray wolf in the year 2000 there were only 66 Gray wolf packs in the state. Today’s over winter wolf population count is around 945 individuals.

In northern Wisconsin beauty can be found where the Gray wolf resides. I’ve walked these trails for over two decades in search of Wisconsin’s wild & elusive gray wolf.

The Gray wolf in Wisconsin trots freely down the wild and remote gravel roads in Douglas county.

Rains of summer create a lush paradise in wolf range.

The Gray wolf in northern Wisconsin. Photograph screen shot from Red Cliff reservation trail cam.

In summer of July 2018 I met a Raven on a remote gravel road in Douglas county. Douglas county is home for Wisconsin’s wild Gray wolf.

The Gray wolf in Wisconsin deserves our protection…

Contact your members of Congress today.

Will the Government Ever Get it Right on Delisting the Gray Wolf in the Great Lakes Region?

These and other questions come to mind as the Federal Government Working On Removing Gray Wolf From Endangered Species List . Will Wisconsin be transparent in its management of the Gray wolf population, and once again allow for greater pubic input as it did prior to the 2012 USF&WS delisting decision.

In 2011 WISCONSIN ACT 169 legislation mandated a trophy hunt on the newly delisted Gray wolf. Wisconsin Act 169 allowed reckless management policies such as; Out of all the states that hunt wolves, only Wisconsin allows hound hunters to use unleashed packs of dogs to hunt wolves. Wisconsin, quite literally, throws “dogs to the wolves.” Wolf Hounding Fact Sheet

In 2013 & 2014 Wisconsin sanctioned the use of dogs to hunt wolves.

This reckless management of the Gray wolf was overturned as part of Humane Society of the United States lawsuit of USF&WS’s 2012 delisting. In December 2014 a federal judge put Gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes Region back on the Endangered Species List. USF&WS appealed the 2014 ruling, but the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., ruled Gray wolves in the Great Lakes region should remain on the endangered species list, July 2017.

Besides the horrific wolf management policies by the state of Wisconsin, problems exist within the way USF&WS determines criteria for wolf delisting in the Great Lakes Region in 2011. It’s seems USF&WS got its “hand slapped” by a judges ruling for trying to delist using the following:

“The proposal identifies the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of wolves, which includes a core area of Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin, as well as parts of adjacent states that are within the range of wolves dispersing from the core recovery area.” USF&WS Press Release 2011

But then, on July 2017, the three-judge panel unanimously said the wolves should stay under federal protection. The judges wrote, “The Endangered Species Act’s text requires the Service, when reviewing and redetermining the status of a species, to look at the whole picture of the listed species, not just a segment of it.”

As the Associated Press reports the judges ruled that,

“The service had not adequately considered a number of factors in making its decision, including loss of the wolf’s historical range and how its removal from the endangered list would affect the predator’s recovery in other areas, such as New England, North Dakota and South Dakota.”

Just how reckless is Wisconsin in its management policies of the Gray wolf?

If the Gray wolf in Wisconsin gets delisted tomorrow; it’s a law that a wolf hunt must take place:

“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.” 2012 Wisconsin Act 169

A brief history on Wisconsin’s reckless management of it’s wolf population, 2012 through 2014.

Wisconsin’s Wolf Advisory Committee is not far and balanced. In other words, there is no transparency in WI DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp’s Wolf management process (WDNR secretary at the time).

WDNR Wolf Advisory Committee met once a month during the legislatively mandated trophy hunt on Wisconsin’s Gray wolf. The WAC recommend how wolf management in Wisconsin should be done. Here is a list of Cathy Stepp’s (WDNR secretary at the time) hand Picked WAC, that she thinks better suited to, “…people who were willing to work with us in partnership…”:United States Fish & Wildlife Service(USFWS), United States Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services(USDA WS), Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission(GLIFWC), Wisconsin County Forest Association(WCFA), Wisconsin Conservation Congress(WCC), Safari Club International(SCI), Timber Wolf Alliance(TWA), Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association(WBHA), Wisconsin Bowhunters Association(WBA), Wisconsin Cattlemans Association(WCA), Wisconsin Trappers Association(WTA), Wisconsin Wildlife Federation(WWF) and 10 WDNR biologists. WODCW blog

Several DNR staff are on the recently created Wolf Advisory Committee, as are representatives of several pro-hunting groups. A smaller number of wolf hunting skeptics also remain on the committee, including a representative of the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission.  WPR reporter Chuck Quirmbach June 2014 

At a WI DNR meeting secretary Cathy Stepp admitted, “When we’re charged to manage and to implement a hunt, coming in and telling us, ‘Don’t hunt wolves,’ is not a productive way to run a committee, frankly,” said Stepp. “That’s just the candid way to lay it out. We had to have people who were willing to work with us in partnership, and be willing to help us and advise us along the way in implementing state law.” Source WPR June 2014

I was was interviewed on June 2014 regarding DNR secretary kicking off wolf hunt opponents Rachel Tilseth of Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin was a volunteer DNR tracker of wolves for about a dozen winters, and attended a few meetings of what used to be called the Wisconsin Wolf Stakeholders Group. Tilseth testified about the wolf hunt proposal during Wednesday’s meeting. She later said she didn’t care for Stepp’s remarks.

“I was just appalled that somebody like Cathy Stepp, who’s in charge of this important issue, is saying something like that,” said Tilseth. “It sounds to me like it’s a committee that they want made up of wolf-killers.”

Recap of the last two years in the never-ending political rhetoric designed to stir public sentiment against an endangered species.

Wisconsin’s annual nine-day gun deer hunt sees increase in statewide buck harvest 2016. The largest change in buck harvest occurred in the Northern Forest Zone (30 percent increase from 2015) after two consecutive mild winters and limited antlerless tags. From WI DNR Press Release 

The increase in buck harvest is hopeful news, because fringe hunters, along with some politicians are claiming that wolves are killing all the deer. This news puts a damper on republican Senator Tom Tiffany’s efforts to delist the wolf.

“A Great Lakes Summit in September 2016, was organized by two Republican lawmakers from northern Wisconsin, Sen. Tom Tiffany and Rep. Adam Jarchow, who hope control of the wolf population returns to state governments.” MPR News

The 30 percent buck increase in the Northern Forest Zone (where the wolf lives) is good news as DNR’s own scientific data is proving wolves aren’t eating all the white-tailed deer in northern Wisconsin.

Yet, certain politicians in Wisconsin refuse to believe scientific fact.

As with any cause, a biased or misleading view can be used to promote, to publicize a particular political cause or point of view.  Here we have several anti-wolf politicians making claims to distort the public’ veiw of wolves; wolves are decimating the White-tailed deer herds, attacking livestock and killing hunting dogs.  Let’s set the record straight; wolves do hunt White-tailed deer, have killed some some livestock and did kill 37 bear hunting dogs.  But in reality; is there a big-bad-wolf here? Let’s get the facts before we sanction the killing of an endangered species.

Are wolves killing more livestock?

Let’s take some statistics from The Wisconsin Gray Wolf Monitoring Report for the period of 15 APRIL 2015 THROUGH 14 APRIL 2016 and read the graphic for yourself. There were 52 wolf depredations on livestock.

There were 52 wolf depredations from April 15, 2015 through April 15, 2016. To put it in perspective, that was 52 livestock deaths by wolves out of 3.50 million head of livestock in Wisconsin. Read for yourself:

“The total inventory of cattle and calves on January 1 rose 3 percent from 2014 to 2015, to 3.50 million head. The number of milk cows rose by 5,000 head to 1,275,000 head and the number of beef cows rose 25,000 head to 275,000 head. On the U.S. level, slaughter prices rose to $153.00 per cwt. for cattle and $255.00 per cwt. for calves. As a result, Wisconsin’s value of production rose 33 percent to $1.92 billion.”  Source: USDA Wisconsin statistics

Wisconsin’s wild wolf is the most talked about animal of late.  Politicians in Wisconsin have villianized the wolf, and are pushing to delist him.  It’s no secret that one cannot trust politicians. Politicians are in competition between competing interest groups or individuals for power and leadership; they’ve created propaganda to make the wolf look bad.

Politicians have removed science from wolf management and replaced it with political rhetoric. They put together a Wisconsin Wolf Advisory Committee with stakeholders primarily from the hunting community.

The WAC is heavily slanted towards recreational trophy hunting of wolves with 9 citizen pro wolf hunting organizations to 1 pro wolf citizen organization. Further, according to Cathy Stepp this committee is more productive than opponents of the wolf hunt. There is evidence to the contrary that shows the WAC productiveness is comparable to reality TV’s Housewives of NYC.  From WODCW’s Blog

In conclusion, if USF&WS, the government, gets it right this time in delisting the Gray wolf in the Great Lakes Region Wisconsin citizens must push for greater transparency in wolf management. Because trophy hunts are about power not conservation. We owe the Gray wolf, that was exterminated from our forest, an ethical & compassionate conservation management plan, because we have done enough harm to this iconic predator.

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.

PHOTOGRAPH BY SEAN CRANE, MINDEN PICTURES

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 Flickr.com

The value of play for the curious wolf pup…

…The arrival of spring brings a new generation of wolves ready to explore the world. However, these youngsters will require training and socialization within their family unit before assuming their places in the pack hierarchy. Play is an important component for their training and growth.

By

Alex Krevitz, M.A.

Science Editor for Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin

Play is part of the normal behavior for wolf pups and other canids exploring the world outside their den with its myriad of new scents, sights and sounds. Their rambunctious acrobatics prepares them for life as savvy adults by developing and honing their innate physical and cognitive skills. Furry little bodies rolling and tumbling, snarling and squealing. These interactions enable young minds to become more alert and adept at reading other animals’ body language. Acrobatics prepare the body for control and balance required for stealthy stalking and learning to read which prospective prey are vulnerable. A wise physically strong wolf can act either cooperatively, or independently on behalf of the pack.

Watch pups at play from “Snow Wolf Family and Me” BBC

Ethologist Marc Bekoff describes play behavior as a factor in , “emotional regulation and the evolution of communication which prepares puppies for the unexpected, decreases aggression and is fun. It feels good. ” Who’s confused? From Marc Bekoff

Play is not only important for the young, but benefits all of us. Take time to enjoy nature and the outdoors and learn from a new generation of wolves.

Alex Krevitz, M.A.

Science Editor

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin

Featured image by John E Marriott

Alex Krevitz received an M.A. in biology from Hofstra University.

She is a student of and advocate for wildlife, especially carnivores. Ms. Krevitz has studied wolves and other canids as a member of the Mammalogy Department at the American Museum of Natural History, at Yellowstone National Park, in Minnesota and overseas. She currently investigates the biology and ecology of mesocarnivores in the central Sierra Nevada foothills. Ms. Krevitz is an active member of the Conservation Committee of the American Society of Mammalogist. As a lifelong animal lover she believes strongly in compassionate conservatism.

Can we learn how to coexist with our fellow sentient-beings that share our planet before it’s too late? 

Man’s destructive track record on wildlife, over the last ten thousand years, makes me think humans are not essential for the survival of the planet. Humans have caused the extinction of thousands of essential sentient-beings. Simply put, wolves are free sentient-beings. I’m not going to measure their right to exist compared to “if they help humans or not.”  Why do humans put less value on the lives of animals living in the wild? Wolves are highly social & intelligent sentient-beings, and have the right to live wild & free. Mankind, as a species, must change their way of thinking-from human domination of the planet to- peacefully coexistence with sentient-beings that share our world. 

Join the campaign to end “Wolf Hounding” in Wisconsin. 

The following is a wolf hounding fact sheet: 
 Out of all the states that hunt wolves, only Wisconsin allows hound hunters to use unleashed packs of dogs to hunt wolves. Wisconsin, quite literally, throws “dogs to the wolves.”Hound hunters traditionally train their dogs to focus on specific prey by releasing their dogs to surround, attack and terrorize a prey animal (e.g. a bear cub or fox) for hours on end (up to 16 hours/day) enclosed in a small, open barrel or “roll cage.” At this point it remains disturbingly unclear as to how hound hunters will train their dogs to pursue wolves instead of other animals—will it be by capturing wolves and allowing their dogs to attack them in barrels and pens? How isn’t this worse than illegal dog fighting? WODCW’s Wolf Hounding Fact Sheet

 “There has never been a more important time for the people of Wisconsin to show they are not going to give in to a small group of people that want to torture animals for fun under the guise of “sport.” ~Rachel Tilseth

Photo of wolf by John E Marriott 

http://www.wolvesofdouglascountywisconsin.com

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. 

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