Wisconsinites remain heavily divided over how to manage state’s Gray wolf population.

This is a comprehensive look a Wisconsin’s wolf management problems. Adrian Wydeven, a retired Wisconsin wolf biologist, and Adrian Treves an ecologist weigh in on how badly the state legislators, in haste, jumped to a wolf hunt In 2011; instead of allowing a democratic process that would have involved public input to unfold regarding wolf management. In the end, these legislators created a one sided wolf management plan based on wolf hunting. And Mike Wiggins chairmen of the Bad River tribe discusses what the wolf means to indigenous peoples. I recommend you read the entire article before jumping to conclusions. Because of course there are some anti wolf opinions included.

Article reposted from www.wisconsinwatch.org

As wolves recover, calls in Wisconsin to end endangered species listing grow
Conflicts with farmers and hunters continue as the state’s wolf population has risen from extinction in 1960 to more than 900 animals today

By Rich Kremer (Wisconsin Public Radio)

A Wisconsin wolf photo credit USF&WS

Nearly 60 years after gray wolves were considered extinct in Wisconsin, the population has rebounded dramatically, to more than 900 in the state. But the conservation success story has turned into a nuisance for hunters, farmers and others whose animals are increasingly encountering wolves — with deadly consequences.

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In November 2018, wolves killed Laurie Groskopf’s 11-year-old hunting dog in Oneida County. That was nine years after wolves killed another of her dogs.

“These animals were trailing bear at the time, and one was trailing bobcat,” Groskopf said. “They were attacked by wolves without any provocation and killed. And for us, it’s been really, really traumatic.”

Wisconsinites subsidized Groskopf’s loss. She received $5,000 through an obscure Department of Natural Resources program that compensates animal owners for losses to wolves. But Groskopf said the payments — $2,500 for each dog — could not make up for the loss of pets she treated as family.

Article from www.wisconsinwatch.org

Nearly 60 years after gray wolves were considered extinct in Wisconsin, the population has rebounded dramatically, to more than 900 in the state. That is thanks to decades of protection under the federal Endangered Species Act, which makes it illegal to hunt or harm listed species.

But the conservation success story has turned into a nuisance for hunters, farmers and others whose animals are increasingly encountering wolves — with deadly consequences. That is why some are calling for the federal government to delist wolves and resume legal hunting.

Groskopf has lost two hunting dogs to attacks by gray wolves, which the federal government lists as an endangered species in the western Great Lakes region. She said $5,000 in payments from a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wolf damage compensation fund could not make up for the loss of animals she treated as family.
“I would say to people who are against controlling the wolf numbers, ‘What gives you the right to decide that my life is going to change substantially because you think wolves belong in my neighborhood?’ ” Groskopf said.

The wolf encounters are running up a tab on taxpayers. Over 34 years, the DNR has paid $2.5 million and counting in damage payments to hunters and livestock owners. Meanwhile, the compensation program appears to be falling short in one of its goals: making hunters and farmers more tolerant of wolves to reduce illegal killings of the protected animal.

The DNR has documented at least 260 illegal gray wolf killings since 1985, including 10 between April of 2018 and April of this year.

People convicted of killing a federally protected wolf can face up to six months in jail and/or a $25,000 fine, according to the DNR. Penalties can include the loss of a hunting license.

Those wanting to legally hunt the animal could get their wish. President Donald Trump’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this year proposed lifting endangered species protections for wolves, calling their rebound “one of the greatest comebacks for an animal in U.S. conservation history.”

But Trump faces opposition from some conservation and animal rights groups that argue wolf populations have not recovered enough to survive hunting. And even if he succeeds in lifting protections, Wisconsin will continue to pay those who lose animals to wolves. That is because a 1999-2001 budget amendment enshrined the payments in perpetuity — regardless of wolves’ protected status.

Jack Johnson, who raises beef cattle on a third-generation farm outside the city of Medford, Wis., is photographed on May 28, 2019. The state paid him $400 for a wolf-ravaged calf that would have otherwise fetched up to $900 on the market. “I’d rather see that money going toward management and control rather than buying a dead animal because we’re paying for it with our taxes,” he said.
Even some of that program’s beneficiaries question its usefulness.

Reposted article from www.wisconsinwatch.org

“I’d rather see that money going toward management and control rather than buying a dead animal because we’re paying for it with our taxes,” said Jack Johnson, who raises beef cattle on a third-generation farm outside the city of Medford. Johnson said the state paid him about $400 in 2014 for a wolf-ravaged calf that would have otherwise fetched between $700 and $900 on the market.

The debate is only the latest in the ever-changing — and sometimes confusing — history of wolf management in Wisconsin and beyond. And it comes as Wisconsinites are divided on wolf issues.

Mike Wiggins, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission board member and chairman of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, said his community sees the wolf as a brother whose fate is intertwined with the community’s.

“And it’s been pretty remarkable to see their return,” he said. “I’ve probably had four or five occasions to see wolves in the wild, and it’s just an amazing, thrilling kind of occurrence that lights up the land, lights up everything with electricity. It really is a wilderness kind of experience, and it’s a gift.”

A 2014 DNR survey found that residents held attitudes toward wolves that were more favorable than unfavorable — by a small margin within wolf range, and by a larger margin outside the wolf range in northern and central Wisconsin. The survey also found that a majority supported a regulated hunting and trapping season.

Wolves declared extinct

Gray wolves have roamed Wisconsin since the glaciers melted about 10,000 years ago — coexisting with Native American tribes that highly respected the hunting animal, according to the DNR. As many as 3,000 to 5,000 wolves were here when the state’s European settlers arrived in the early 1800s, but that would not last. Wisconsin offered a bounty on wolves from 1865 to 1957, spurring widespread hunting that decimated populations.

By 1960, wolves were considered extinct in Wisconsin; similar trends played out in other parts of the country.

Groskopf said wolves are everywhere she hunts and trains her dogs. She operates a website, Wisconsin Wolf Facts, to raise awareness of the problems she said wolves have created for farmers and hunters.
In 1974, the Fish and Wildlife Service added gray wolves to the list of federally protected species under the Endangered Species Act. By 1980, the DNR counted a fragile population of just 25 wolves in northern Wisconsin, as a few packs moved in from across the Minnesota border.

Reposted article from www.wisconsinwatch.org

The animals’ listing status has since changed repeatedly, often in response to legal challenges. And the federal government allowed Wisconsinites to hunt wolves earlier this decade.

On Jan. 27, 2012, the Fish and Wildlife Service removed the gray wolf from the list of endangered species in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin and parts of adjoining states. That also allowed the killing of wolves attacking livestock. The same day, Wisconsin lawmakers introduced a bill to create a wolf hunting season.

While wolf hunting advocates supported the bill, retired DNR wolf researcher Adrian Wydeven called the bill “egregious” because it mandated a season structure and methods for hunting wolves, including allowing the use of dogs to track them. He said traditionally the Legislature gave authority to DNR to create those types of rules through a lengthy, public rulemaking process.

“I think it was kind of like legislative overreaction that we finally get a chance to control this wolf population,” Wydeven said. “We’re going to do it as intensely as possible while we can do it.”

Mike Wiggins, chairman of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, speaks during a public meeting at Northland College in Ashland, Wis., on Sept. 25, 2019. His community considers the wolf a brother. “And it’s been pretty remarkable to see their return,” he said.
The hunt drew opposition from animal rights groups and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, which represents tribes in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Wiggins, of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, said he wanted to sue, but ultimately, the commission chose not to litigate.

Wisconsin held wolf hunting seasons in 2012, 2013 and 2014, until the federal government re-listed wolves in the western Great Lakes area as endangered following a federal court ruling. In those years, hunters killed 528 wolves, according to the DNR. Another 176 were killed through the renewed authority to use lethal force in response to attacks on livestock and other domestic animals.

If Trump succeeds in removing wolves from the protected list, hunting would again be allowed in Wisconsin, Scott Walter, a DNR large carnivore specialist, said in an email. But it would not happen right away. The agency would need to draw up state rules such as creating quotas and a permit application process, he said.

Damage payments begin

Although wolves rarely attack humans, an ancient fear of the predators persists among some people.
In 1983, the state established an income-tax checkoff that allows residents to donate to support federally protected species. It earmarked 3%, or up to $100,000 a year, to pay for damage caused by wolves and other animals under federal protection.

Wisconsin doled out its first wolf damage payment in 1985. A Douglas County farmer received $200 for killed sheep. Two years later, the state paid $2,500 for a hunting dog named Ranger, the first payment for “personal property” under the program.

Retired DNR section chief Randy Jurewicz said the idea of paying for hunting dogs was hotly contested within the agency.

“Paying for livestock made a lot of sense to almost everybody,” Jurewicz said. “These are animals that are being raised, being sold, it’s the Wisconsin way of life, and that made sense.”

Compensation for dogs killed by wolves was controversial, he said, in part because some believed hunters were knowingly putting their dogs in harms’ way.

“What kind of ruled was the fact that we had so few wolves in the state that, really, just a little bit of real serious negative feelings toward them would have eliminated them,” he said. “People just would not have tolerated them.”

DNR wildlife biologist Brad Koele now administers the wolf damage payments. After struggling with determining the market value for each dog, he said the agency set a limit of $2,500, which Wisconsin Bear Hunters’ Association president Carl Schoettel described as “fair and appropriate,” adding, “It is devastating for a pet owner to have their companion viciously eaten by wolves.”

To date, payments have averaged $2,324. The DNR paid a total of $806,451 for hunting dogs as of Oct. 3.

To limit dangerous interactions between wolves and dogs, the DNR offers an interactive map showing areas where dogs have recently been killed.

Reposted article from www.wisconsinwatch.org

But Groskopf said wolves are everywhere she hunts and trains her dogs. Groskopf operates a website, Wisconsin Wolf Facts, to raise awareness of the problems she said wolves have created for farmers and hunters.

“Eventually, there’s so many of them that you’re going to run into them,” she said.

The goal of the payments was, in part, to build tolerance among farmers and hunters for the increased wolf population. But illegal killings continued. A 2018 study by DNR research scientist Jennifer Stenglein found 9.4% of all radio-collared wolves were illegally killed between 1979 and 2013.

Adrian Treves, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor and founder of the Carnivore Coexistence Lab, thinks the DNR has undercounted the number of illegally killed wolves. In 2017, he co-authored a study that found up to 37 percent of wolves the DNR reported as being killed by vehicles had metal fragments consistent with gunshot wounds. Wydeven disagreed with that finding.

Although wolves rarely attack humans, an ancient fear of the predators persists among some people. Treves said lifting federal protections and allowing lethal control would send a “policy signal” to would-be poachers that they could kill wolves without consequence.

Wolves rebound; new rules written

In anticipation of a federal push to remove wolves from the Endangered Species List, the DNR released a wolf management plan in 1999 that set rules for trapping, relocating and killing wolves that attacked livestock and pets once the state assumed management authority.

If wolves were to be delisted, it also meant farmers, pet owners and hunters would stop getting payments for animals killed by the formerly protected predators. But that budget amendment, introduced by former state Sen. Kevin Shibilski, D-Stevens Point, ensured the reimbursements would continue.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this year proposed lifting endangered species protections for the animal, calling its rebound “one of the greatest comebacks for an animal in U.S. conservation history.” Courtesy of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
“I don’t remember how or even whether I authored and introduced an amendment,” Shibilski said. “But I certainly remember the debate, the ongoing conversation about how we live with wolves on the landscape.”

Shibilski, a former bear hunting guide, said the wolf damage payments are about safeguarding wolves.

“If you don’t behave responsibly and reimburse people for actual losses, you risk enabling bad actors out there, vigilante wildlife managers who are trying to kill predators wantonly and end up raising all kinds of havoc in our wolves, and that’s been happening,” he said.

Shibilski pointed to an incident this spring in which a wolf, three dogs, coyotes and other wild animals were killed by poisoned meat scattered throughout Florence, Marinette and Bayfield counties. Authorities investigated the poisonings, but no charges have been filed.

Livestock losses continue

Of the $2.5 million in damage payments, Wisconsin has paid more than $1.3 million for cattle, calves and missing calves — sums that have increased as wolves rebounded.

Farms that see the most wolf-livestock conflict tend to be located near large blocks of public land like the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, according to Dave Ruid, a supervisor with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Wildlife Services program, which investigates such livestock killings.

Michigan also pays for missing calves on farms with confirmed wolf attacks, but Minnesota does not.

Jack Johnson, who raises beef cattle on a third-generation farm outside the city of Medford, Wis., shows a photo of a calf that wolves killed in 2014. “There wasn’t much left of it — the head and the two front shoulders, and everything else was gone.”
But the majority of DNR’s livestock payments did not require physical proof that wolves killed the animal. Under DNR rules, farmers who have had livestock killed by wolves can also get paid for any additional missing calves beyond the expected annual 2.3% mortality rate.

Reposted article from www.wisconsinwatch.org

In 2011, the DNR issued a record 257 missing calf payments, with 103 of those going to members of the Fornengo family, who raise beef cattle in Burnett County. The family, which declined comment, filed missing calf claims with the DNR under Fornengo Cattle Co. and T&T Ranch between 2009 and 2019. The DNR later enacted a rule that limited livestock producers to no more than five missing calf claims for every confirmed kill — but it was only in effect for two years.

As of October, the DNR paid nearly $720,000 for missing calves throughout the program’s existence, with $239,865 going to the Fornengo-owned cattle operations between 2011 and 2019.

Ruid said the owners agreed to allow the USDA to install a 6.5-mile electric wire at the farm at government expense. He said wolves are constantly testing the fence, and the farm has had confirmed livestock killings since its installation.

Farmer: Too many wolves

Johnson, the Medford farmer, has not lost an animal to wolves since 2014. The Fish and Wildlife Service put up flags — brightly colored and hung along a roped-off perimeter — on his land to scare them off. Still, Johnson believes farmers should be allowed to kill animals causing problems on farms. When wolves are around, the cattle are scared and do not want to eat — even their breeding cycles are affected. That is why he wants the federal government to lift protections for wolves. He would like to see no more than 350 wolves roam the state.

Wydeven criticized the state Legislature’s swift passage of wolf hunting requirements in 2012, the last time the federal government lifted protections for gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region. “I think it was kind of like legislative overreaction that we finally get a chance to control this wolf population,” he said.
Wydeven, the former DNR wolf researcher, said 350 refers to the DNR’s 1999 wolf management plan, which was based on the premise that the population would only reach 500 animals in Wisconsin. Currently, it is nearly double that.

“So, 350 was logical and reasonable as a potential goal back in the early 2000s, but now considering we know the carrying capacity is quite a bit higher, that doesn’t really make sense anymore,” Wydeven said. “And it wouldn’t make sense to try to drastically reduce the wolf population down to that level.”

A research paper co-authored by Erik Olson, Northland College assistant professor of natural resources, suggests the changing status has led to inconsistent management, declining public support for wolves — and possibly more illegal killings.

Walter, the DNR large carnivore specialist, agrees.

“The continued tennis match back and forth that revolves around wolf management is increasing frustrations by constituents, by those farmers and others that are being impacted by wolves and by legislators who are listening to those constituents,” Walter said.

After two decades of consistent and rapid population growth, the state’s wolf population has leveled off — even without hunting, Walter added.

“And I think it’s becoming clear that wolves have essentially occupied all the suitable range where they can go about their daily lives unfettered by the heavy hand of humans

Article reposted from www.wisconsinwatch.org

Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy —Yellowstone Story Film Project…

The following is Linda Thurston’s dialogue from Meet the Advocates Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy—The Yellowstone Story Film Project:

“We’ll watch wolf packs in the park and we get to learn about every individual and their personalities. And the younger ones, the older ones, and the ones you know are the good hunters for instance, and the ones that play the support roles and learn their personalities. Then we’ll watch them for years. Then there’s an elk hunt and a wolf hunt right outside the park. These wolves will leave because it’s a free meal for them to eat a gut pile that an elk hunter left on the landscape. Then, that wolf might get shot over it. And it’s heartbreaking for us to see this animal, it’s not like our pet, but we get to learn its personality like as if it was a pet. And it just breaks our heart and makes you wanna speak up and do something about it.”

 

To learn more about Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy: The Yellowstone Story Film Project click here.

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Films, LLC www.wolvesofdouglascountywisconsin.com

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, 2018-2019, Wolf Monitoring Report is out…

Photo credit: Snapshot Wisconsin

Did you know that a wolf hunting and trapping season is required by law when Wisconsin’s Gray is not listed on the Endangered Species Act. 2011 Wisconsin Act 169 was approved by the Governor Scott Walker-R in April 2012. This statute authorizes and requires a wolf hunting and trapping season. Numerous season and application details were described in the statute. Out of all the states that hunted wolves, only Wisconsin allows hound hunters to use unleashed packs of dogs to hunt wolves. Wisconsin, quite literally, throws “dogs to the wolves”.

Act 169 authorized the Department to delineate harvest management zones, set harvest quotas, and determine the number of licenses to be issued to accomplish the harvest objective.

Six-hundred and fifty-four gray wolves were killed during Wisconsin’s wolf hunting and trapping seasons that took place in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Thankfully, a federal judge in December 2014 threw out an Obama administration decision to remove the gray wolf population in the western Great Lakes region from the endangered species list. This decision banned further wolf hunting and trapping in three states of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan.

The state of Wisconsin’s misguided wolf management plans, regarding hunting and trapping, is important information to note as the USF&WS is working to revise a role to delist the Gray wolf in the Great Lakes Area. USF&WS held a Public comment period that closed on July 15, 2019 with over 900,000 commenters apposed Trump Administrations Plan to remove wolf protection.

Help protect Wisconsin’s Gray wolf from a required hunting and trapping season: contact you members of Congress by clicking here to get their contact information.

The 2018-2019 Wolf Monitoring Report is out…

Once a year the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources publishes a Wolf Monitoring Report 2018-2019 that was conducted using a territory mapping with telemetry technique, summer howl surveys, winter snow track surveys, recovery of dead wolves, depredation investigations, and collection of public observation reports.

In April 2019 the statewide minimum wolf population count was 914-978 wolves, a 1% increase from the previous year. There are roughly 978 gray wolves living throughout Wisconsin’s northern and central forests, minimum winter count, according to the WDNR Wolf Progress Report 2018-2019. All of this points to a wolf population that is self regulating or leveling off according to land carrying capacity.

Wolf Mortality…

A total of 41 wolf mortalities were detected during the monitoring period. Detected mortalities represented 4-5% of the minimum 2017-2018 late winter count of 905-944 wolves. Detected mortalities represented 4-5% of the minimum 2017-2018 late winter count of 905-944 wolves.

Once again, according to the Wolf Progress Report, vehicle collisions (44%) and illegal kills (24%) were the leading causes of death for detected mortalities and were slightly higher than rates detected the previous year. Human caused mortality represented 94% of known cause detected mortalities overall.

https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Wildlifehabitat/wolf/documents/wolfreport2019.pdf

Wolf Depredation…

During the monitoring period, Wildlife Services confirmed 68 wolf complaints (wolf depredations) of the 121 investigated. While the number of confirmed livestock incidents increased from 37 in 2017-2018, the number of farms affected decreased from 31 the past 2 years.

The use of flandry, red strips of material, is used as deterrent to keep wolves away from livestock.

There’s always work to be done when it comes to protecting livestock and wolves…

Watch the interview of Brad Koele WDNR Wildlife Damages Specialist. I interviewed Koele on June 11, 2015 at the WDNR Wolf Population meeting held in Wausau Wisconsin.

Foxlights a nighttime predator deterrent that saves lives! Foxlights have been used by Wisconsin farmers. I gave an interview to Wisconsin Public Radio reporter Danielle Keading on June 21, 2016.

Tilseth sold 25 to the U.S. Department of Agriculture APHIS-Wildlife Services in northern Wisconsin and said they deter wolves from coming near livestock.

“It can be seen from a mile away,” she explained. “It operates with a six volt battery giving up to 12 months of nonstop protection. A light sensor automatically turns it on when it’s at dusk and turns it off during the day.”

These lights are just one of the abatements available to livestock producers in Wisconsin.

https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Wildlifehabitat/wolf/documents/wolfreport2019.pdf

Once again it has been proven in scientific fact that Wisconsin’s Gray wolf is keeping White-tailed deer populations healthy.

White-tailed deer are the primary prey species for wolves in Wisconsin. White-tailed deer density estimates increased 7% statewide from the previous year estimate, but the majority of that increase was in wolf management unit 6 considered to be mostly unsuitable for wolf pack development. Wolf management units 1, 2, and 5, considered to be primary wolf range, contain 76% of the minimum winter wolf count. Deer density estimates remained stable at 25.3 deer / square mile of deer range in primary wolf range.

Photo credit: Snapshot Wisconsin

The state of Wisconsin’s misguided wolf management plans, regarding hunting and trapping, is important information to note as the USF&WS is working to revise a role to delist the Gray wolf in the Great Lakes Area. USF&WS held a Public comment period that closed on July 15, 2019 with over 900,000 commenters apposed Trump Administrations Plan to remove wolf protection; proving the public wants gray wolves on the landscape! The Gray wolf is part is a part of Wisconsin’s wild legacy!

Help protect Wisconsin’s Gray wolf from a required hunting and trapping season: contact you members of Congress by clicking here to get their contact information.

Who has more common sense & self-restraint: the hound hunter or the gray wolf? The conflict continues…

Just this week in Wisconsin a hound hunter ran his dog through a wolf rendezvous site, and two gray wolves killed his dog. He went into the area looking for his dog and witnessed two timber wolves holding onto the dead dog. He not only disturbed wolf pups, causing the death of his dog; he then walks right into the rendezvous site where wolves are already in defense of pups adding fuel to the fire! I’ve been a volunteer wolf tracker for 19 years, and this takes the cake! It wins the award for stupid! He’s posted it on his Facebook & claimed the two wolves went after him. I’ll tell ya something about wolves that if they were after him as he claims, they most definitely could of finished him off fast. But they did not. They did not touch a hair on his head. Because they are smarter than him, apparently! And proving they have more self-restraint than he does!

His post is now being shared on Facebook and being exaggerated, commented on, ranted on, & on, angrily & all because of a lack of common sense! It’s a wolf-hate-fest!

Photograph is of hound hunter’s dog. Dog was running on Bear right through gray wolf rendezvous site. It’s a well known fact, that wolves keep their young pups at rendezvous sites while they go hunting.

Gray wolves keep their three month old pups at rendezvous sites while they go hunting. Conflicts arise when bear hunters run their dogs through rendezvous sites. Gray wolves are forced to defend vulnerable pups from free ranging packs of hunting dogs.

Bear Hunters and Wolves

In the 1960s Wisconsin started allowing the use of dogs in the pursuit of bear. At that time there were maybe a handfull of wolves in Wisconsin if any. Wolves were not a threat to bear hunters because they were all but wiped out of Wisconsin by the 1960s.  It all changed for bear hunters when Wisconsin Wolf recovery began in the late 1970s.

This conflict between bear hunters and wolves isn’t new. Watch the following Wisconsin Public Television piece from 2010.

A Brief History on Wisconsin’s Gray Wolf

In 1967 and 1974 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated the eastern timber wolf a federally endangered species. In 1975, wolves were listed as a state endangered species as they began to recolonize along the Minnesota border. Wolves crossed over into Wisconsin from Minnesota and established territories on their own. Today, Wisconsin’s Gray wolf is listed on the Endangered Species List. Final Rule to Delist – – Due to a Federal court decision, wolves in the western Great Lakes area (including Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin) were relisted under the Endangered Species Act, effective December 19, 2014.

Wisconsin’s Gray Wolf Current Population

The 2017-18 overwinter minimum wolf count is 905-944, a 2.2% decrease from the 2016-17 minimum count of 925-956. The 2018-19 overwinter minimum wolf count is 914-978, a 1% increase from the 2017-18 minimum count of 905-944. Wisconsin’s Gray wolf appears to be self regulating.

Carrying capacity is an ecological term for the number of a given species that an ecosystem can sustainably support. Social carrying capacity, however, refers to the number of a species that people feel is appropriate.

Wisconsin Black Bear Hunters use dogs to track and trail bears. Conflicts arise when a hunter’s dogs run through Gray Wolf’s rendezvous sites where pups are kept. Rendezvous sites are:

Rendezvous Site Identification and Protection source WDNR Endangered Resources

Active Season for Rendezvous Sites: mid-May – mid-October

Habitat: Rendezvous sites are generally open areas of grass or sedge adjacent to wetlands. The sites are characterized by extensive matted vegetation, numerous trails, and beds usually at the forest edge. Rendezvous sites are often adjacent to bogs or occur in semi-open stands of mixed conifer-hardwoods adjacent to swamps. Sometimes abandoned beaver ponds are used as rendezvous sites.

Description: Rendezvous sites are the home sites or activity sites used by wolves after the denning period, and prior to the nomadic hunting period of fall and winter. Pups are brought to the rendezvous sites from dens when they are weaned, and remain at rendezvous sites until the pups are old enough to join the pack on their hunting circuits. Rendezvous site may be associated with food sources such as ungulate kills or berry patches. Generally a series of rendezvous sites are used by a specific pack. Rendezvous sites are mostly used from mid-June to late-September, but use may start as early as mid-May and may continue to early or mid-October. Some intermittent use of rendezvous sites may continue into the fall. It appears that the average number of rendezvous sites used by wolf packs is 4-6.

Although den and rendezvous sites each serve separate functions for wolves, they are sometimes used interchangeably. Excavations sometimes occur at rendezvous sites and these may be used as den sites in the future. Sometimes rendezvous sites may represent old den site areas. Therefore, a site used as a rendezvous site one year, could be used as a den site the next year or vice versa. Due to the transient use of rendezvous sites, special protections are not necessary. If recent excavations are observed indicating possible use as a den site, protocols in place for den site protection should be followed. Source

“Most Wisconsin citizens want at least some wolf presence in the state, but those who feel strongly, at either end of the spectrum, drive the argument.” Lisa Naughton, UW-Madison geography professor.

Wisconsin DNR puts out the following when there is a wolf depredation on hunting dogs:

When wolves attack dogs in hunting or training situations on public land, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will create wolf caution areas to warn hunters that a specific pack has attacked a dog or group of dogs. Bear hunters are urged to exercise greater caution if they plan to train hounds or hunt bear with hounds near any caution area, especially if near an actual kill site.

When a wolf depredation takes place on a Bear hunter’s dog he is compensated $2,500.00 per dog. Wisconsin’s wolf depredation program began in 1982, and soon afterwards bear hunters running dogs in pursuit of bear began receiving payouts. The payouts for wolf depredations were paid in the effort to help compensate hunters, livestock owners and residents living in wolf recovery areas.

We must mitigate the decades old conflict between bear hunters and wolves…

In 2015 Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association (WBA) worked at loosening regulations for bear hunters using dogs in pursuit of bear. It’s a mystery as to just how many dogs in pursuit of bear are running through the woods during training & hunting. Why is this a mystery? Because a change in regulations took place that removed the Class B bear training & hunting license. Because of that change it’s impossible to know; just how many dogs in pursuit of bear are running through the woods. It’s all carefully crafted propaganda to make the wolf look bad. 

I started working on the Wisconsin wolf recovery program as a volunteer Winter Wolf Tracker in the year 2000. I lost track of how many “no-wolf” bumper stickers were encountered in a day of tracking in the the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. This conflict between bear Hunters and wolves is decades-old.

It’s time we begin to address the conflict, especially with the possible delisting threats on the horizon. This would mean Wolf management would fall into state hands.

Contact your Wisconsin State Representative. Wisconsin’s Gray wolf needs your help.

The Trump administration is making drastic changes to how the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is applied.

Ecosystem Services: Think of bees that pollinate more than 90 commercial crops in the U.S. That’s the beauty, or bounty, that the Endangered Species Act provides. The ESA ensures these beneficial ecosystems just don’t unravel. You see the Endangered Species Act doesn’t just protect the individual species, it also protects the lands, or habitats, the endangered species need to survive. For sure protecting these habitats can make it difficult for certain industries, mainly extractive industries, such as; oil & gas, mining and lumbering. Renewable energy is out pacing coal, oil & gas extractive industries in America. It’s a well known fact that, extractive industries cause more harm for our vital ecosystems; such as land, water, air and wildlife. But there are several politicians, like Senator Barrasso, Republican from Wyoming, that supports these extractive industries and wants to rewrite the ESA to accommodate these dying-extractive-industries.

The Trump administration is making drastic changes to how the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is applied announced this week.

Chief among the changes is the removal of blanket protections for threatened animals and plants.

Until now, any species deemed threatened — a category for organisms at risk of becoming endangered — by the FWS automatically received the same protections as endangered species. They include bans on killing threatened and endangered species. Now, those protections will be determined on a case-by-case basis, a move which will probably reduce overall protections for species that are added to the threatened list, says Hartl.

The US government says that these updates will ease the burden of regulations and increase transparency into decisions on whether a species warrants protections. But critics say that the revisions cripple the ESA’s ability to protect species under increased threat from human development and climate change.

“These changes tip the scales way in favour of industry,” says Brett Hartl, government-affairs director for the environmental advocacy group the Center for Biological Diversity, who is based in Washington DC. “They threaten to undermine the last 40 years of progress.” Source

What are the economic benefits the Endangered Species Act generates from protecting vital habitats?

In the following article from Time The Endangered Species Act Is Criticized for Its Costs. But It Generates More than $1 Trillion a Year.

“Yeah, there are costs: it might slow down certain industries and help certain industries,” says Jason Shogren, an economics professor at the University of Wyoming. “We have to think about all the non-market benefits that exist for knowing these species exist, for knowing the web of life is intact, for knowing that these ecosystems aren’t going to unravel.”

Economists often describe this broad set of benefits as “ecosystem services,” and their value to the U.S. economy is enormous. Think of bees that pollinate more than 90 commercial crops in the U.S. like fruits, nuts and vegetables or birds that eat mosquitoes that would otherwise spread disease to humans.

A 2011 study prepared for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, a government-affiliated conservation group, tabulated the total value of ecosystem services at about $1.6 trillion annually in the U.S. The value totaled more than $32 billion in National Wildlife Refuges protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Critics of the Endangered Species Act often couch their concerns in terms of the damage that it does to specific industries.

Speaking at a hearing on the law in 2017, Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming went through a laundry list of economic interests he said were being harmed by the 1973 law.

“States, counties, wildlife managers, home builders, construction companies, farmers, ranchers, and other stakeholders are all making it clear that the Endangered Species Act is not working today,” he said.

Biologist warn that changes to the ESA could be disastrous for species like the Monarch Butterfly.

But as the Trump Administration prepares a set of regulatory changes that could dramatically undermine the law, some supporters are highlighting the economic benefits of protecting endangered species.

They note that the law doesn’t just protect individual species, it also protects the ecosystems that support that species. That work sustaining natural lands and the species that call them home helps ensure everything from a hospitable climate to clean drinking water.

The Trump administration and republican law makers have been working to change the ESA…

Changes from Republicans in Washington would prioritize these industry concerns. The Department of the Interior in a press conference announced the changes to how the agency implements the law:

The changes finalized today by Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Commerce’s National Marine Fisheries Service apply to ESA sections 4 and 7. Section 4, among other things, deals with adding species to or removing species from the Act’s protections and designating critical habitat; section 7 covers consultations with other federal agencies.

These changes spell disaster for our natural resources…

The rule change would tighten standards for protecting new land, potentially allow regulators to ignore the effects of climate change on a species and, perhaps most significantly, allow for cost considerations when previously decisions were made on science alone.

Democrats are likely to fight these changes to the ESA…

Tinkering with the Endangered Species Act isn’t a political winner with polls showing most Americans broadly supporting the law, along with other environmental protections. But Democrats argue that their Republican counterparts have bet that reforming the popular law are ok with that so long as they reward the interest groups that helped put the current Republicans in office in the first place.

In a statement last year…

“The Trump Administration doesn’t seem to know any other way to handle the environment than as an obstacle to industry profits,” said Arizona Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, in a statement. “If a single company can make a single dollar from the destruction or displacement of an endangered species, it’s full speed ahead.”

Take action to preserve the Endangered Species Act…

Contact you Senator today! Center for Biological Diversity has an easy to use form and note to your congressman to tell the Trump Administration to stop gutting the ESA!

Use Center for Biological Diversity’s Take Action form click here.

Michigan Men Confessed to Killing Gray Wolves…

DNR officials caught the men responsible for two separate Upper Peninsula wolf poaching incidents in a span of 24 hours.

A 58-year-old from Greenland Township and a 67-year-old from Menominee Township, both confessed to the crimes in Ontonagon and Menominee counties, respectively, on Tuesday.

Their names are being withheld pending their arraignments in the respective county district courts. Gray wolves are a protected species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and as such, can only legally be killed in defense of human safety.

“Wolves are examples of important wildlife species that play a critical predator role in the ecosystems of the Upper Peninsula,” said Lt. Ryan Aho, a district law supervisor in Marquette.

“Our conservation officers did some great work in obtaining confessions from these two individuals who killed wolves collared for study purposes by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.”

The investigation began when DNR Wildlife Division personnel received a mortality signal from the collar of an adult female wolf in Ontonagon County.

Sgt. Marc Pomroy and CO Zach Painter went to the site located off Gardner Road in Greenland Township.

“We gathered some information at the scene, and we conducted suspect interviews the following day,” Painter said. “During those discussions, the suspect admitted he shot the animal with a rifle, which we seized as part of the investigation.”

The Menominee County kill came during the firearm deer hunting season when a mortality signal was received from a 1-year-old male wolf on Nov. 19.

“I retrieved the collar later that day from a place along River Road in Lake Township,” said CO Jeremy Sergey. “The collar was intact, covered in blood, but was not attached to a wolf.”

On Tuesday, the man from Menominee Township confessed to killing the wolf, months after the original crime. He was, however, an original suspect developed by the DNR in November, according to a news release.

Illegally killing a wolf is punishable by up to 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both, and the cost of prosecution. Source

Featured image information: A gray wolf shot in Ontonagon County Saturday is shown. A Greenland Township man has admitted to shooting the animal with a rifle. (Michigan )

Lawsuit argues that wolves must remain federally protected until the Fish and Wildlife Service implements a national recovery plan.

“We won’t let the Trump administration bring wolf recovery to a screeching halt to benefit the blood sport of trophy hunting,” said Collette Adkins, a Minneapolis-based Center biologist and attorney. “If successful, our lawsuit would require the feds to recover wolves nationwide and block their efforts to prematurely remove protection.”

Lawsuit Fights Trump Administration Effort to Strip Gray Wolves of Protection 

Action Seeks Legally Required National Wolf Recovery Plan

WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity today sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for violating the Endangered Species Act by never providing a comprehensive recovery plan for gray wolves nationwide, which is required by the law.

Today’s lawsuit argues that wolves must remain federally protected until the Fish and Wildlife Service implements a national recovery plan. But the agency is planning to remove endangered species protection from nearly all gray wolves in the lower 48 states through a proposed rule expected next month. 

That would make wolves vulnerable to trophy hunting and trapping, halting their progress toward recovery. 

“We won’t let the Trump administration bring wolf recovery to a screeching halt to benefit the blood sport of trophy hunting,” said Collette Adkins, a Minneapolis-based Center biologist and attorney. “If successful, our lawsuit would require the feds to recover wolves nationwide and block their efforts to prematurely remove protection.”

A recovery plan would enable wolves to establish viable populations in areas where small populations are still recovering, including California, Oregon and Washington. 

It would also promote recovery in areas like the southern Rockies, Dakotas and Adirondacks, which have suitable wolf habitat but no remaining wolf populations. 

“Wolves are still missing from more than 90 percent of their historic range in the lower 48 states, and the Endangered Species Act, and common sense tell us we can’t ignore that loss,” said Adkins. “We’re doing all we can to make sure Trump officials fulfill their obligation to restore wolves in key habitats across the country.”

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, explains that the Service unreasonably denied the Center’s formal petition requesting development of a nationwide wolf recovery plan. Beyond the plan the Endangered Species Act requires the agency to conduct a status review every five years. But six years have passed since the last national wolf status review.

For Immediate Release, November 14, 2018

Contact: Collette Adkins, (651) 955-3821, cadkins@biologicaldiversity.org

Featured photographs by John E Marriott

US Rep Sean Duffy (R-WI) Proposes Removing Endangered Species Act Protection for Gray Wolves in the Lower 48 States…

…Duffy wants management returned to the states and court challenges of management plans would not be allowed under his proposal. Duffy proposes removing wolves from Endangered Species Act Law would eliminate possible court challenges by Rick Olivo Ashland Daily Press rolivo@ashlanddailypress.net

U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy again is trying to kill Endangered Species Act protection for wolves, this time as he is headed into a contentious election.

His proposal introduced earlier this month marks the fourth time in three years that members of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation have tried to reverse federal court actions that reinstated wolf protections. Previous efforts by Duffy and former Republican Rep. Reid Ribble of Shorewood have gone nowhere.

In a news release issued by Duffy, he said the bill would return management of the roughly 900 wolves in Wisconsin to state officials.

“Wisconsin deserves the opportunity to use science-based wildlife management for our own gray wolf population, because we know what’s better for our state’s ecosystem better than activist judges in Washington,” Duffy said. “I’m proud to introduce bipartisan legislation to delist the gray wolf because Wisconsin farmers deserve to be able to protect their livestock, and they should not suffer because of the decisions made by an overreaching federal government a thousand miles away.”

The wolf decline

Wolves were virtually extirpated in Wisconsin by hunters and farmers who feared depredations to livestock and who were also encouraged by bounties for wolf kills. Although wolves were essentially extinct in the state by the 1950s, the bounty remained in existence until 1957.

In the 1970s, wolves naturally began to make a comeback in the state and they were added to the Endangered Species Act in 1974, with the state following suit in 1975. In the face of growing numbers of wolves in the state, wolves were removed from the Endangered

Species Act in 2012 after a number of court challenges. A further legal challenge resulted in wolves being relisted in 2014.

Opponents of the relisting say it gives farmers and ranchers no legal avenue to protect their livestock from wolves.

Duffy’s proposal would allow all 48 of the continental United States to control their own populations and it includes a clause that says the action “shall not be subject to judicial review.”

Duffy Communications Director Mark Bednar said the bill, known as the Manage our Wolves Act, has bipartisan support. Its cosponsors include Washington representatives Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside and Cathy McMorris Rogers, R-Spokane and Minnesota congressman Collin Peterson, D-Detroit Lakes. He said the bill is different than earlier efforts.

“This would delist grey wolves over a wide range, the entire 48 states, rather than just reissue the older Fish and Wildlife Service rule, which is what the previous bill did; it was more narrow in scope, delisting protections only in the upper Midwest and in Wyoming.”

In an interview with radio-based Brownfield Ag News, Duffy said he has a slim-but-real possibility of getting the bill passed in the House by the end of September.

“We have the votes to pass it (in the House). Once that happens, I’ve got a few senators who have indicated they will introduce a companion bill in the Senate so we can get a package to the president’s desk,” Duffy told Brownfield.

Bednar said the act reflects the policy not only of the Trump administration, but also of the Obama administration, both of which agreed that wolves should be delisted.

“But they were and are being prevented from doing so because of the courts,” he said.

Pros and cons

There are arguments for and against delisting. Farmers are among those who most vocally favor removing protections.

Jack Johnson, a director with the North Central Wisconsin Cattlemen’s Association, told Wisconsin Public Radio in January that he supports any effort to delist the wolf.

“The state could start managing them and get a little control over the numbers, because right (now) they’re expanding way more than we’ve got room for them,” Johnson said.

The state spent $200,505 in wolf-damage payments to those who lost animals or livestock in 2015. Earlier this year, state officials were organizing claims from 2016, primarily from farmers and bear hunters whose dogs strayed into wolf territory and were killed.

“Given the number of dogs that were killed, the significant increase in the compensation payments related to hunting dogs, that is likely to drive an increase in the total amount of compensation,” said Dave MacFarland, large carnivore specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

He said 31 farms experienced wolf depredation or harassment in 2016 compared to the 35 farms in 2015.

Wolf advocates remain opposed to placing the wolf back under state management. Rachel Tilseth, founder of the website Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin, said her organization has little faith in the state to do what is best for the animals.

“Because apparently management of wolves means a wolf hunt,” Tilseth said. “For them, that’s the only way that they feel they can manage them, is through the hunting and trapping and barbaric use of dogs.”

Peter David, wildlife biologist with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, said tribes also are concerned about the precedent that could be set with wolf delisting legislation.

“There are real concerns about any effort that undermines the Endangered Species Act if we start cherry-picking,” David said.

Wisconsin tribes oppose a wolf hunt and did not allow wolf hunting on reservations prior to the relisting.

“The tribes in general have supported maintaining wolves on the Endangered Species Act because of the cultural significance of wolves,” said David. “The tribes have felt those types of protections are appropriate for wolves.”

Meanwhile, the Sigurd Olson-based Timber Wolf Alliance is not opposed to the concept of delisting, but according to Alliance head Adrian Wyd even, the devil is in the details.

“Historically, the Timber Wolf Alliance has supported efforts to downlist and delist wolves in the western Great Lakes region, done through normal Endangered Species processes through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” he said. The Alliance has favored reducing the timber wolf status to threatened from endangered and supported delisting in 2006 and 2011.

“But I think we would have some concerns about delisting wolves throughout the U.S. without a much more thorough assessment and analysis, something that should be done through the Fish and Wildlife Service, not just as a congressional action.”

Wydeven said that by agreeing with delisting in the past, the Alliance has concluded that states can be good conservationists in managing state wolf populations.

Nevertheless, many members of the Alliance were uncomfortable with the “overly aggressive” hunting goals set by the state.

“I am sure there would be concerns by our membership if that is done nationwide,” he said.

~~~

Featured image credit NPS photo / JMills

Politicians have no Idea of the Gray Wolf’s Intrinsic Value to the Land…

… the party in power only values economic growth, and caters to special interests where the big money is concerned. In the featured photograph is a young gray wolf that was one of the last to die in Wisconsin’s wolf hunts that took for three years from 2012 to 2014. This young Gray wolf was taken by a wolf hunter using the barbaric practice of Wolf-Hounding; an age old hunting practice that pits large packs of dogs against a gray wolf.

This young male gray wolf was born far too late, his fate sealed by a hunter’s desire for an opportunity to shoot a trophy wolf for a pelt to be used as a rug by the fireplace or a mount for a game room.

It was a few decades ago that Wisconsin’s Gray wolf was placed under the protection of the Endangered Species Act, and Wisconsin’s Wolf Recovery Program was born. When I became involved in the program in the year 2000 there were only 66 gray wolf packs in Wisconsin. Today’s Gray wolf population estimates are 945 individuals. I never imagined that Wisconsin would become so reckless in its management of the Gray wolf, but they did. In 2011 just a couple of months before USF&WS delisted them, Wisconsin legislators rushed through Act 169 designating grays wolves as a game animal to be hunted.

This is how the state of Wisconsin manages an endangered species just off the list. Is that not reckless?

Like naughty school boys, without batting an eye, or having any idea of the Gray Wolf’s intrinsic value upon our planet, politicians work to return management of Gray wolves to states like Wisconsin; where the party in power only values economic growth., and caters to special interests where big money is concerned.

Senator Barrasso is working to revise or rewrite the Endangered Species Act to accommodate extractive industries, such as oil & gas, mining and lumber. The majority in power is clearly trying to rewrite the Endangered Species Act in favor of big monied special interests that want the land (animal’s land it protects) and this would place endangered species in even more danger of extinction. Please be the voice for the Gray wolf. #ExtinctionIsForever

#GetInvolved like Ani Conrad from California! Post your selfie today!

There’s No Price Tag on Our Mother Earth…

…Get involved. Protect the earth from unscrupulous land grabbers. In the early 1990s I met activists John Trudell, Floyd Crow Westermman and Walter Bresette at a Protect the Earth Pow Wow held on the Lac Court Oreilles reservation in northern Wisconsin. Back then it was about Native Spearfishing exercising rights off the reservation and Sulfate Mines in ceded territories.

“One Earth, one mother – one does not sell the Earth.” ~John Trudell

I participated in the protests of a gold mine at Ladysmith.  I remember walking into the site, and having to be so careful not to trip over the television new’s crews. The TV crews were laying on the ground filming our feet as we walked by them. I watched as Walter Bresette hit the bulldozers with the war club of the famous Sauk chief Black Hawk. The war club was a gift given to Bresette for his work. I remember helicopters flying over-head watching our every move.

“Oil is drowning our oceans and drowning our boreal forests.” ~Winona LaDuke

Today my activism is about protecting the Gray Wolf. The Gray wolf has become the most talked about animal as of late. Thousands of activists across the world are working to preserve the Gray Wolf’s legacy from unscrupulous land grabbing; special interests that want the wolf as a trophy, and his habitat.

Photograph of Gray wolf credit: NPS

These unscrupulous land grabbers are working to rewrite the Endangered Species Act in order to accommodate the extractive industries of oil & gas, mining and lumber. We cannot afford to lose this fight!

Senator John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming, released draft legislation That will significantly overhaul the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Under Barrasso’s proposal, individual states would be given key authority over the federal program to conserve threatened and endangered species.

Earthjustice anticipated Barrasso’s legislative proposal more than a year ago. The environmental law nonprofit said that Barrasso has received substantial campaign contributions from extractive industries that wish to mine or drill land that overlaps with wildlife habitat. Citing campaign finance records, from 2011 until 2016, Barrasso received $458,466 in total campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry, plus $241,706 from the mining industry.

The Endangered Species Act, passed by Congress four decades ago, is the nation’s safety net for fish, plants ,and wildlife on the brink of extinction. More than 99 percent of species that have been designated for federal protection continue to exist in the wild today, including the bald eagle, grizzly bear, the leatherback sea turtle, and the Florida manatee.

The valley below the Roan Plateau is dotted by oil and gas development. Photo credit: Ecolight

…That’s the beauty, or bounty, that the Endangered Species Act provides. The ESA ensures these beneficial ecosystems just don’t unravel. You see the Endangered Species Act doesn’t just protect the individual species, it also protects the lands, or habitats, the endangered species need to survive. For sure protecting these habitats can make it difficult for certain industries, mainly extractive industries, such as; oil & gas, mining and lumbering. Renewable energy is out pacing coal, oil & gas extractive industries in America. It’s a well known fact that, extractive industries cause more harm for our vital ecosystems; such as land, water, air and wildlife. But there are several politicians, like Senator Barrasso, Republican from Wyoming, that supports these extractive industries and wants to rewrite the ESA to accommodate these dying-extractive-industries. Read more click here.

How to contact U.S. Senators

You can contact your senators by writing a letter or a message using your senator’s web contact form, by calling, or by visiting. All questions and comments regarding public policy issues, legislation, or requests for personal assistance should be directed to the senators from your state. Please be aware that as a matter of professional courtesy, many senators will acknowledge, but not respond to, a message from another senator’s constituent.

Contacting The Senate

By E-mail

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By Postal Mail

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For correspondence to U.S. Senators:

Office of Senator (Name)

United States Senate

Washington, D.C. 20510

For correspondence to Senate Committees:

(Name of Committee)

United States Senate

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By Telephone

Alternatively, you may phone the United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. A switchboard operator will connect you directly with the Senate office you request.