Senators from Wisconsin and Wyoming have introduced bipartisan legislation which would return gray wolf management to the states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota. It also reaffirms the current delisting of wolves from the Endangered Species Act in Wyoming. This bill follows a recent decision from a federal court in California which returned the gray wolf to federal protection in much of the lower-48 states.
Adrian Wydeven, a retired Wisconsin DNR biologist, is not surprised by the recent action. “When wolves were relisted last month, I [believed] legislative delisting would likely be attempted in the Great Lakes region as it had occurred in the Northern Rockies,” Wydeven said. Unlike federal agencies, Congress can limit the authority of courts to review its delisting action – as is the case with the current bill.
This legislative effort comes as the Wisconsin DNR is currently working to finalize a new Wolf Management Plan. The last state wolf management plan was approved in 1999, with some slight modifications added in 2007. Wisconsin abandoned work to rewrite the plan in 2015. This bill also follows the February 2021 wolf hunt during which 218 wolves were killed, 83% more than the state quota allowed. Per Wisconsin law, anytime the gray wolf is not under federal or state protection, the state is mandated to hold a wolf hunt.
Legislative delisting is not new. In 2011, Congress required the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reinstate the decision to delist wolves in the Northern Rockies, except for Wyoming. In 2012, the agency did delist wolves in Wyoming; however, this rule was vacated by a federal district court in 2014 and later reinstated by a federal appeals court in 2017. Prior to the reinstatement, Wyoming’s congressional delegation had sought to legislatively require delisting of wolves in the state. The newly introduced legislation, co-sponsored by both Wyoming Senators, does not allow for judicial review of the decision to delist the animal in Wyoming. In 2018, then-Congressman Sean Duffy (R-WI) sponsored the Manage Our Wolves Act which sought to remove federal protections for gray wolves in the lower-48 states. The legislation passed the House of Representatives but was not taken up in the Senate.
How the recent bill’s introduction may be leveraged for political purposes remains an open question. While bipartisan, it comes just months ahead of the 2022 midterm election in which Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) is the only co-sponsor on the ballot. His challenger will be determined in the August 2022 primary.
The state Senate passed legislation Wednesday that would ban coyote-killing contests in New Mexico – after an 80-minute debate that highlighted the political divide between urban and rural lawmakers.
The bipartisan proposal, Senate Bill 76, now heads to the state House.
“This is an abhorrent fringe activity,” said Sen. Jeff Steinborn, a Las Cruces Democrat and co-sponsor of the bill.
Featured image: A coyote creeps through fresh snow in Eldorado, south of Santa Fe, earlier this month. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)
Opponents said the legislation is an example of urban lawmakers failing to understand life in rural New Mexico – where, they said, killing contests should remain an option to help control the population of a predator.
“This is a perfect example of what’s wrong with our government,” Sen. Cliff Pirtle, R-Roswell, said of the proposed law.
The bill would make it illegal to organize or participate in an organized competition to kill coyotes for prizes or entertainment. People could still kill coyotes to protect life or property.
The Senate passed the bill 22-17, with a mix of Democrats and Republicans on both sides. It was co-sponsored by Steinborn and Mark Moores, R-Albuquerque.
Similar proposals have passed the Senate in previous sessions and died in the House. But voters shook up the composition of the House in last year’s general election, with Democrats picking up eight seats to reach a 46-24 majority.
In Wednesday’s debate on the Senate floor, Moores described himself as a freedom-loving Republican, but he said he was disgusted at the behavior of people who participated in a recent killing competition. They dumped the carcasses into a trailer and “drove them around town sticking it in people’s eyes,” Moores said.
On the other side, Sen. Gregg Fulfer, R-Jal, described in graphic detail how coyotes attack and kill other animals, including livestock. It isn’t right, he said, to force every part of the state to abide by one law for coyotes.
“It won’t work for my area,” he said of the proposal. “Think about how these bills are changing New Mexico’s culture.”
Coyote-killing contests are already banned on state trust land, under an executive order issued last month by newly elected State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard, a Democrat. But the order doesn’t cover other public land or private property.
Supporters of the Senate legislation say 20 to 30 coyote-killing contests are sponsored each year in New Mexico. Participants use devices to “call” coyotes to lure them into range.
During wolf recovery in 2006 on a snow covered road in northern Wisconsin I found wolf sign every tenth of a mile while tracking. This was on the very edge of wolf territory. I found wolf tracks, raised leg urination, squat urination and scent marking. This was a lucky find! Even better was finding a snow capped pine tree sapling with rust colored urine on it. This was the sign of estrus, meaning the alpha female was ready to mate. This was the time of year when wolves created new life. Alpha males are very protective this time of year.
Flash forward to the year 2014 and the memory of finding wolf breeding sign came flooding back to me while I was sitting in on a WDNR Wolf Advisory committee meeting. The topic of discussion was about training hound hunting dogs on wolves during wolf breeding season. The pro wolf hunt members were arguing that they should be allowed to train dogs on wolves during mating season. Yes! You heard that right! Out of all the states that hunt wolves Wisconsin is the only state that allows the barbaric practice of wolf Hounding.
I’m convinced, after what I witnessed at that wolf advisory committee meeting, that there’s no way Wisconsin should be allowed to manage its gray wolf population. That’s not responsible wolf management. Under Wisconsin’s current political party in power gray wolves will never be managed for conservation. You might as well throw a ring around wolf territory and call it “Dog Fighting” cause running dogs on wolves during mating season is cruel to dogs and wolves! Photo by Niebrugge Images
…Action Alert. Contact your representatives in the U. S. Senate today. Major anti wolf legislation is now being proposed in the U. S. Senate. Just recently in the House version of the defense bill that could weaken the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Marine Mammal Protection Act; Another provision in the bill that Republicans want to include would delist gray wolves found near the Great Lakes and Wyoming, while another amendment would block ESA protections for all gray wolves in the continental U.S.
The Senate is considering a ‘sweeping attack’ on the Endangered Species Act, environmental groups say. The bill’s author, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), is holding a hearing now. The legislation would empower governors to veto some of the current protections for imperiled species, and limit the ability of citizens to file lawsuits to protect threatened plants and animals. [read more]
The bill contains language for delisting of Gray wolves in the lower 48 states:
…the Secretary of the Interior shall issue a rule to remove the gray wolf (Canis lupus) in each of the 48 contiguous States of the United States and the District of Columbia from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife [read more]
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) would place endangered species in even more danger of extinction. Please be the voice for the Gray wolf. #ExtinctionIsForever
More than 100 Democratic lawmakers are pushing back against Republican efforts to include provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act that would weaken certain endangered species protections.
On Tuesday, 119 House Democrats sent a letter to various lawmakers in both chambers urging them to remove specific language in the House version of the defense bill that could weaken the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Marine Mammal Protection Act.
The Democrats wrote that the provisions in the bill would “have widespread, negative consequences.”
“The 2019 Defense Authorization bills contain numerous, controversial, anti-environmental provisions that are unrelated to military readiness,” the lawmakers wrote. “These deceptive provisions would cause irreparable harm to our wildlife and public lands.”
One of the amendments, submitted by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah), would prevent the Interior Department’s Fish and Wildlife Service from being able to list the greater sage-grouse and the lesser prairie chicken as endangered species for 10 years. Both animals have been the topic of debate in Western states regarding species and habitat management.
That amendment also would permanently remove the American burying beetle from the ESA list.
Another provision that Republicans want to include would delist gray wolves found near the Great Lakes and Wyoming, while another amendment would block ESA protections for all gray wolves in the continental U.S.
“Decisions about how to protect species under the ESA should be based on science and made by the experts at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, not Congress,” Democrats wrote.
Separately, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Tuesday considered legislation introduced by Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) that would overhaul the ESA. The ambitious effort would bestow more powers and responsibilities to state officials, allowing them to determine how animals and plants should be protected within state lines.
Republicans contend that the power shift would not weaken protections but rather allow state regulators to use their on-the-ground experience to determine how best to protect a species.
This article originally appeared in EcoWatch. Senator Barrasso has introduced a proposal that would give states more authority over the Endangered Species Act. Several conservation groups say it would also undermine efforts to save endangered species like manatees (pictured) from extinction.
Senator John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming, released draft legislation Monday to significantly overhaul the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The following video is from Now This Politics on Facebook. ENDANGERED SPECIES: The Senate is considering a ‘sweeping attack’ on the Endangered Species Act, environmental groups say. The bill’s author, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), is holding a hearing now. The legislation would empower governors to veto some of the current protections for imperiled species, and limit the ability of citizens to file lawsuits to protect threatened plants and animals.
More from Eco Watch Article…
Under Barrasso’s proposal, individual states would be given key authority over the federal program to conserve threatened and endangered species.
“When it comes to the Endangered Species Act, the status quo is not good enough,” the Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman said in a press release. “We must do more than just keep listed species on life support — we need to see them recovered. This draft legislation will increase state and local input and improve transparency in the listing process.”
Alaskan Gray wolf photo credit NPS
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.
Many Republicans have long sought to weaken the landmark conservation law, as it can block energy production or other developments on critical habitat for endangered species. The current GOP-controlled 115th Congress has introduced dozens of bills that would strip federal protections for specific threatened species or undermine the ESA, according an analysis from the Center for Biological Diversity. That’s one such bill every six days in 2017 alone.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is managed by the “whims” of the political party in power.
Conservation organization Defenders of Wildlife criticized Barrasso’s plan, contending that states may lack the legal authority, the resources and sometimes the political resolve to implement the ESA.
“This partisan bill is all about politics, at the expense of sound science and the species that depend on it for survival,” said Defenders president and CEO Jamie Rappaport Clark in a press release provided to EcoWatch. “It is a reckless power grab designed to wrest away authority from scientists and wildlife experts and give it to states that lack the resources — and sometimes the political will — needed to save wildlife from extinction.”
In 1975, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources declared timber wolves endangered.
Defenders of Wildlife has multiple objections to the provisions in Barrasso’s draft bill. For instance, a team overseeing the recovery of a certain species would not be allowed to have more federal members than state and local officials, who would be nominated by state governors.
It also “relegates scientists, the heart of any science-based recovery effort, to an afterthought requiring majority approval by the State-dominated team,” the group said.
“Shifting from a basis in science to one blown by political whims leaves wildlife exposed, threatening to reverse decades of work to bring animals back from the brink of extinction,” Jordan Giaconia, Sierra Club federal policy associate, said in a press release.
“You need to look no further than Sen. Barrasso’s home state of Wyoming, where grizzly bears prematurely stripped of endangered species protections are about to be trophy hunted, to see the risks legislation like this poses,” Giaconia added.
Further, the Casper Star-Tribune reported that the proposal will “prohibit scientific data from being disclosed in a public records request — if it includes a business or private landowner’s proprietary information. Otherwise, the scientific basis of decisions with a species is to be public information.”
Barrasso’s proposed legislation reflects recommendations from the Republican-dominated Western Governors’ Association.
“The Western Governors’ Association appreciates the Chairman’s willingness to productively engage with Governors, and that the Chairman has approached this polarizing topic in an inclusive, thoughtful manner,” a February letter from the WGA states. “The proposed bill reflects this fact and offers meaningful, bipartisan solutions to challenging species conservation issues.”
As The Hill noted, the governors’ process was bipartisan, with Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) signing on to the recommendations. However, other Democratic governors, including California Gov. Jerry Brown and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee objected to its legislative proposals.
“The truth is that we, as a nation, could save the vast majority of species through proactive and collaborative conservation efforts on-the-ground, just as we have recovered species like deer, bighorn sheep, bald eagles, ducks, and wild turkeys,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation in a press release.
O’Mara continued, “Specifically, we urge the Senate to prioritize bipartisan recommendations which bolster science-based decision-making, foster collaboration among conservation partners, and accelerate on-the-ground habitat restoration projects — and to reject recommendations that erode the scientific integrity that is the bedrock of the Endangered Species Act.”
Cathy Liss, president of the Animal Welfare Institute, said in a provided statement that the Endangered Species Act “does not need to be reformed, streamlined, or modernized — it simply needs to be fully funded and given the opportunity to help species achieve recovery.”
She added, “Congress must stop meddling with this critically important law and focus instead on ensuring it is fully implemented and enforced.”
Featured image credit Alaskan Fish & Wildlife Service
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.”
“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 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.
The Farm Bill (H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018), scheduled to be brought to the House floor next week that has amendments to delist wolves in the Great Lakes region. Amendment number 85:
Representative Dan Newhouse (R-WA) submitted an amendment to remove ESA protections for gray wolves across the continental United States. This would not only place gray wolves in peril, but also undermine the ESA by taking away the decision-making power from scientists, as the law mandates, giving it instead to partisan members of Congress. This amendment also blocks judicial review, meaning that citizens can’t challenge the delisting in court. Shielding agency actions from review by independent federal courts violates citizens’ rights under the ESA and is simply undemocratic. Animal Welfare Institute
…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…
The War On Wolves Continues. Wolf advocates we must make our voices heard. By Alex Krevitz, M.A. Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Science Editor
In recent years state and federal natural resource agencies have targeted grey wolves Canis lupus, for elimination. Scientific organizations and reputable non governmental wildlife organizations have had their peer reviewed scientific research eschewed by policy makers. Individual scientists have had aspersions cast upon their professional legitimacy for questioning wolf management policies.
The purveyors of the anti wolf misinformation have been affiliated with groups associated with extractive industries, agricultural interests and trophy hunting. Their goal has been a mission to depict wolves as wanton killers of deer and livestock. Their interests have been served by legislators whose campaigns they have funded. Cases before the Supreme Court of the U.S. such as Citizens United and Montana Copper Kings have infused those who seek to exploit public land for private gain often at the expense of wildlife with a source of revenue with which to influence policy makers. Fortunately, the judiciary on several occasions have restored protections to wolves. Justices have characterized the fervent and scientifically unfounded war on wolves as “arbitrary” and “irresponsible.”
Historically, over decades, Americans, in polls and on ballot initiatives, have expressed strong support for banning wolf hunting and protecting public lands. Surreptitious attempts by extractive industries and ranchers to devastate these lands for personal gain have met with massive and vocal public opposition and some plans have been stopped or delayed.
Miraculously, persistent communications to legislators by wolf advocates resulted in the species continued protection. Numerous NGOs and grass roots activists update each other and the public on legislative maneuvers and upcoming votes. Countering large well funded and experienced entities determined to remove wolves from Endangered Species protections is an ongoing task. Certain members of Congress with hitherto positive environmental records have capitulated to their well funded cohorts with opposing agendas.
The current Interior Secretary has elevated the trophy hunting and mineral extraction as top priorities of his department. He has faced skepticism and criticism from scientists, the conservation community and the public. Naturalists at all levels have been appalled by this single minded focus on transforming the Interior Department into a safe haven for those intent upon killing trophy animals and exploiting natural resources on public lands as primary objectives.
Once a species had been extirpated there is no return. The cumulative effects of killing, border walls and habitat destruction is terminal.
So the fight goes on to advocate for our wildlife who cannot protest in their own right. To protect our sacrosanct and irreplaceable natural resources; It is imperative that severe exploitation actions be publicized, and that those who advocate for these destruction be held accountable.
We must make our voices heard as individuals through the media, petitions, at public meetings, using our informed communications networks to rally support. We must all vote. America’s natural resources, including wolves, were protected in the past due to public support. It is incumbent upon all of us to provide that same support for wildlife and wildlands now.