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 )

Killing is Not Conservation…

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

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

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

PHOTOGRAPH BY SEAN CRANE, MINDEN PICTURES

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

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

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

What is Compassionate Conservation?

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

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

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

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Featured image from Flickr.com

Ill conceived Assembly Bill 712 Takes a Nose-Dive in Public Hearing

On Wednesday January 10th the Committee on Natural Resources & Sporting Heritage held a Public Hearing on Assembly Bill 712.

Assembly Bill 712 is legislation not guided by or based on good sense. This bill ties the hands of local law enforcement from assisting federal authorities in any investigation into the illegal killing of Wisconsin’s wild wolf. Considering 20% of wolf mortalities were illegal killings in 2016 this bill is rather ill conceived. Wolves are a federally protected endangered species.

Jodi Sinykin Habush, an attorney spoke along with her son, Zack Sinykin in opposition to AB 712.

“It’s not a clear issue and it’s difficult to resolve as it makes sense,” said Jodi Habush Sinykin, environmental attorney for Midwest Environmental Advocates. “There are millions of dollars of federal funds at stake as well if Wisconsin were to pursue this task.”

Rep. Nick Milroy (D-South Range) made note at the absence of the bill’s author.

Milroy said he was disgusted that Rep. Adam Jarchow (R-Balsam Lake) could not be present for the public hearing on Assembly Bill 712.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been to a committee hearing in my life where the lead author of the bill has not shown up for the public hearing,” said Milroy. “There’s some speculation that the whole reason for this bill is because the author of the bill is running for another office right now and the election is next week.”

The vote on this bill is not going to happen until after the election, of which has no concern for this committee at this time,” kleefisch said. Kleefisch is chairman of the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources and Sporting Heritage.

Many concerned citizens came out at Wednesday’s Public Hearing in opposition to AB 712. Wisconsin

State HSUS Representaive Melissa Tedrowe spoke in opposition against any trophy hunting of wolves, further stating the importance of wolves on the landscape. Tedrowe made it clear that Humane Society of the United States is an animal protection agency, and is opposed to the sport hunting of wolves. “Seventeen wolf packs disappeared in three years of wolf hunting,” said Tedrowe. Sport hunting of wolves indiscriminately messes with wolf packs and increases conflict. “Wolves are trophies when they are hunted and nobody eats them,” said Tedrowe.

Rep. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit, questioned the companion Senate bill author Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, whether the legislation would lead to illegal killings.

“Aren’t you giving free license to people, at least as far as the state’s concerned, to violate both state and federal law?”

“Tiffany told the committee it’s the federal government’s responsibility to manage wolf populations.”

“They should hire the staff necessary to review these things if they believe it’s that important,” said Tiffany.

“The wolf plays an important role in the culture of all of Wisconsin Indian tribes,” he said. “Lack of wolf protection, as this bill would cause, would probably result in tribes losing packs on reservation lands and portions of the ceded territories.” Said Adrian Wydeven, of Timber Wolf Alliance.

What’s next for this ill conceived bill?

The companion bill of AB 712 is scheduled for a Senate Public Hearing Committee on Sporting Heritage, Mining and Forestry on Tuesday, January 16, 2018 10:00 AM.

Senate Bill 602 Relating to: enforcement of federal and state laws relating to the management of the wolf population and to the killing of wolves and expenditure of funds for wolf management purposes. By Senators Tiffany, Vukmir and Craig; cosponsored by Representatives Jarchow, Felzkowski, Quinn, Kremer, E. Brooks, Skowronski, Krug, Kleefisch, Swearingen, Stafsholt, Kulp, Brandtjen, Tauchen, Ripp, Edming, Vorpagel, Rohrkaste and Horlacher.

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin remains in opposition of AB 712. Read more Please take action to protect Wisconsin’s wild wolf from legislation not guided by or based on good sense…

Twelve year old Canyon pack alpha female’s life ended with a shot from a poacher…

…Sad news for Yellowstone wolves.

The 12-year-old Canyon pack alpha female who died last month was shot by a poacher close to the northern park boundary.
Preliminary Necropsy Results Reveal Well-Known Wolf Shot
Date: May 11, 2017 

Contact: Morgan Warthin, (307) 344-2015 
MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, WY – Preliminary results from the necropsy of the Canyon Pack alpha female wolf showed that she suffered from a gunshot wound. Hikers discovered the mortally wounded wolf April 11, 2017, inside Yellowstone National Park near Gardiner, Montana. Park staff responded quickly to the situation and due to the severity of the wolf’s injuries, euthanized the animal. The deceased wolf was sent to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Oregon for a necropsy. The lab has transferred the preliminary results to Yellowstone National Park.
National Park Service law enforcement believes the wolf was shot on the north side of the park, near Gardiner, or near the Old Yellowstone Trail which is located in the park on the northern boundary. The incident likely occurred sometime between April 10 at 1 a.m. and April 11 at 2 p.m.  
Continue reading: http://bit.ly/2pFfl9X

Photo credit: Jim Peaco NPS

Poaching may be a bigger threat than the state thought…

Hunters may need to keep their paws off Wisconsin wolves. 

By Sarah Fecht, Popular Science 

Wisconsin’s wolves are a great success story in many ways. When the state began monitoring its gray wolf population in 1979, there were only about 25 left in the area, after bounty hunting and prey decline nearly wiped them out. Today, thanks to the Endangered Species Act and the state’s efforts, Wisconsin is home to about 800 gray wolves. But they may not be out of hot water yet.

In 2012, Wisconsin declared its wolves were no longer endangered, and over the course of three years, hunters obtained permits to kill more than 500 of them. A federal judge put the population back on the endangered list in 2014, where it remains today. But there are folks in Wisconsin—including the governor and some senators and congressmen—who hope the wolves will be fair game again soon.

That might not be such a good idea, according to research published Monday in the Journal of Mammology. The study found that Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) has systematically underestimated how many wolves are killed by poachers each year. And without an accurate estimate of the population size and the threats they face, hunting quotas could potentially imperil Wisconsin’s wolf populations again.

“We’ve found that poaching or illegal killing is the primary threat to wolves in Wisconsin,” says lead author Adrian Treves, who studies human-carnivore interactions at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “This isn’t something that only happens in Africa. It’s happening in our own backyard, with controversial species like the wolf.”

Poaching problems

Treves and his colleagues received a grant from the WDNR to study how the state’s 2012-2014 cullings impacted the wolves’ population growth rate. In the course of that study, the researchers tracked down the state’s data on how wolves die every year. The state sorts cause of death into five basic categories: vehicle collisions, legal killing, poaching/illegal killing, and non-human causes. After digging through the state’s figures, the researchers found problems with how the data were collected and analyzed.

The discrepancy between poaching’s estimated and actual impact was particularly profound: Treves’ team found poaching to be the cause of at least 39 to 45 percent of wolf deaths every year, compared to the state’s estimate of 34 percent. And Treves says that 45 percent is based on conservative estimates—the real number may actually be higher.

“The care that should have been taken was not taken,” says Treves. “We don’t think somebody was intentionally underreporting poaching, but it seems like the state agency errs on the side of not calling something poaching.”

Data difficulties

Treves and his colleagues found a number of problems with the way the state estimated the cause of death in wolves.

Since it would be impossible to monitor every wolf in Wisconsin, the state radiocollars only about 13 percent of its wolves. By monitoring those wolves, they try to get an idea of how the entire population is doing. But Treves argues that the wolves that are studied don’t provide an accurate picture of the larger group. That’s because they’re mostly selected from state lands, which represent the best and safest habitat for wolves. The wolves that live outside those core areas are at a higher risk of being poached or struck by cars, says Treves, and they’re not represented in the data.

There’s another problem. The state assumes that lost radiocollared animals have died of the same distribution of causes as they animals they’ve managed to keep tabs on. So if 34 percent of the successfully tracked population dies from poaching, the state assumes 34 percent of the collared wolves who went missing also died from poaching. But that’s not quite right, says Treves. Legal hunting claimed the lives of about 13 percent of tracked wolves, but since the state records each and every wolf that’s killed legally, none of the missing wolves could have met such a fate. So that 13 percent needs to be redistributed elsewhere, suggesting that the number of poached wolves would in fact be higher than 34 percent. And since poachers may be more likely to target a wolf that’s not wearing a radiocollar, the applicability of those numbers to the larger population is debatable.

“The state made a decision about the cause of death, and we think they got it wrong.”

Finally, Treves’ team revisited the files of a few dozen wolves that were autopsied, and found that many of the wolves classified as dying from car collisions contained bullet remains. “It looks to us like people might be shooting at wolves on the road and then hitting them with their cars as a weapon,” says Treves. He says that although the veterinarians reported the bullet evidence, “the state made a decision about the cause of death, and we think they got it wrong.”

Hunting on hold

Overall, poaching may be at least 6 to 11 percent more common than expected. Treves worries that if Wisconsin regains the power to hunt its wolves, and if it continues to underestimate poaching rates, it could put the population into a downward spiral.

“Without estimates of mortality and births that are unbiased, precise, and accurate,” the paper notes, “policies that promote the killing of wildlife will risk unsustainable mortality and raise the probability of a population crash. The current government of the state of Wisconsin risked that crash when it issued high wolf-hunting quotas and when it liberalized culling from 2012 to 2014, both done without presenting careful, transparent accounting of mortality and births.”

The WDNR did not respond to Popular Science’s request for comment, but state leaders claim the wolf population never dipped below 350, the state’s minimum target. However, some researchers think 1,000 to 1,500 wolves might be necessary to maintain healthy genetic diversity.
Treves’ paper is surely not the end of the debate about whether to legalize the hunting of gray wolves. But the team is putting all the data online, so that other researchers can analyze their findings.

“The state has never published all of its mortality data,” says Treves. “We’re doing it for the first time to be totally transparent.” Source: Popular Science

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A new study proves more wolves have been subject to poaching than the DNR reported.

Study by Adrian Treves and other scientists published in the  Journal of Mammalogy: The UW study investigated the deaths of 937 gray wolves from October 1979 to April 2012 — a period that ends before Wisconsin initiated hunting seasons for wolves. Of the 937 wolves that died and whose deaths were investigated, 431 wore radio collars.
The UW researchers said that their analysis showed that the death of radio-collared wolves attributed to human causes was 64%. But the DNR calculated 55% and said an additional 18% of deaths were due to unknown causes, according to a DNR report in 2012.
Said Treves: “That’s a big number. We dug deeper and maybe it’s poaching.”
The researchers re-examined government records of necropsies and X-rays and found in some instances that gunshot wounds were a factor in the cause of death when other causes were cited.
The analysis also showed 52 wolves, or 20% of 256 animals that were X-rayed, revealed evidence of gunshots that did not kill the wolves. These cases were not added to researchers’ own estimates of higher poaching.
But the study said that figure lends credibility to the researchers’ claim that more wolves have been subject to poaching than the DNR reported.
Julie Langenberg, one of the authors of the study and a former DNR veterinarian, re-examined wolf death records.
She found evidence of gunshots that in the initial analysis were either mentioned briefly or not identified. Sometimes it was her own work.
“You are not looking at alternative facts,” Langenberg said of her review of wolf mortality in the study. “You are looking at the same facts, but because you are asking different questions, you are doing a different kind of assessment.”
She said the DNR’s job was to simply determine the cause of death.
Wisconsin officials reported that 528 wolves were killed during the state’s wolf hunting seasons in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
During 2013, 257 wolves were killed — nearly half of all wolves harvested during the three years. Then the wolf population dropped 18% from 809 in 2013 to 660 in 2014.
The hunts were halted in December 2014 by a federal judge who said Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan were violating the Endangered Species Act. This year, Congress, including Republicans and Democrats from Wisconsin, introduced a bill to replace federal protections with state management. Read full article in the Journal Sentinel click HERE

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Featured image by John E Marriott 

Guillaume Chapron and Adrian Treves decided to find out whether legal killing of wolves really does reduce poaching

Source: When you start killing wolves, something odd happens by By Niki Rust

11 May 2016

The US sometimes allows the killing of wolves, on the grounds that it can help conservation, but in fact there is a surprising knock-on effect

As the cold early spring sun began to shine between the trees, the only sound heard for miles around was the gentle rustling of leaves in the bone-chilling breeze. But faintly, in the distance, the galloping of footsteps began to thunder through the forest.

The wolf pack darted between the conifers on the trail of a deer. Suddenly, a deafening explosion echoed through the woods, and a wolf at the rear of the pack yelped and dropped to the floor. A poacher had shot it dead.

Such illegal killings are thought to be relatively common in the US. However, because poaching is illegal, we do not have a firm grasp on how often this illicit behaviour really goes on.

Conservationists have previously thought that poaching subsides if either legal culling by government officials, or trophy hunting, is allowed. The idea is that these legal forms of killing can make local people more tolerant of the wildlife they live with, reducing their urge to illegally kill animals.

However, until now nobody has ever tested this assumption. Click here to go to full article

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Featured image: by John E Marriott

New Italian wolf plan would call for 60 wolves to be legally killed every year, in a context where hundreds of wolves are already killed by poachers using rifles, poison baits or traps. 

By the end of next month the Italian Government should approve the Piano di conservazione e gestione del lupo in Italia”[ Plan of conservation and management of the wolf in Italy. This plan, in spite of the hypocrisy of its title, provides some alarming exceptions to the ban on hunting the wolves in Italy. I’ve just signed a WWF petition to ask the Italian Minister for the Protection of the Environment to reject any alteration to this law in favor of a possible “removal” of the wolves from their natural habitat.
This is my translation of the text that everyone can read on the petition page of the Italian WWF (http://www.wwf.it/lupo/soslupo/  Click HERE to sign the Italian petition

~Brunella Pernigotti  

WODCW writer in Turin, Italy

 Translated from Italian to English: 

“National and international laws protect particularly the wolves as they are a species that was cruelly persecuted and decimated by men in the past. They are slowly regaining their space now, but they are not yet out of danger on our territories because of some persistent threats such as the cross-breeding with dogs, the poaching, the collision with vehicles and some illnesses like the distemper.
The draft of the “Plan of conservation and management of the wolf in Italy” provides for some derogations from the prohibition to remove wolves from their natural habitat and for the possibility of licensing the legal killing of 5% of the Italian estimated wolf population.

If the current version of the plan is approved, 60 wolves could be legally killed every year, in a context where hundreds of wolves are already killed by poachers using rifles, poison baits or traps. Poachers kill at least 300 wolves every year. If we add the wolves killed accidentally by vehicles, in Italy human beings cause an estimated mortality rate between the 15 – 20 % of the wolves population. The estimated Italian population is about 1200/1500 wolves, including those living in the Apennines and in the Alps.”

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Of course a great debate has been taking place on the internet between those who are for and those who are against this plan and its contents. Among several of those in favor of wolves are scientists. There is a detailed and interesting study on the reasons why killing wolves doesn’t reduce the conflict with the livestock breeders, or the poaching. It’s included in a document titled “Discrediting seven prejudices against wolves” by the WWFALPI, the European Alps Program of WWF to defend the wolf. The national WWF organizations of Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France and Italy are part of this program and their objective is  to collaborate all together in order to preserve the animal and floral biodiversity of the Alpine region.  I sette pregiudizi sul lupo da sfatare

Here is my translation of an abstract:
“Why killing wolves doesn’t reduce either the conflict with the livestock breeders, or the poaching.
A lot of politicians, and some environmentalist too, argue that giving an incentive to livestock producers because they don’t want wolves in their territories could reduce the conflict and prevent poaching. Unfortunately it’s not true, as any psychologist would be able to explain. When the authority downgrades a species from “particularly protected” to “possibly hunted” as it is considered harmful, it gets a negative connotation. Therefore, the public opinion assumes automatically the wrong belief that this species is dangerous. And the conflict rises more.
Killing a quota of wolves is ethically questionable, but, most of all, it’s scientifically useless. Making some selected killings (the difficulty of a real and serious selection apart), doesn’t help to reduce the damages. This is confirmed by the clear data of several Italian and foreign studies.
There is a basic ethological reason. The pack is a hierarchical and organized group that hunts successfully when every member cooperates and there is a skilled alpha couple that leads the pack. So they are able to hunt wild animals, preferably ungulates. Selected killings of wolves often destructures the pack, especially when the alpha male, or female, is killed, but this is not the only bad result. 

When the pack scatters, the wolves become lone individuals; they are often young and without experience, without a leader, they prefer to hunt an easier prey, such as sheep, even if it represents a greater risk. A lot of researches demonstrate that the damages to the livestock even increase after the so-called selected killings of wolves.”
Why do wolves eat livestock? Click HERE for the link

This is the English abstract of an article issued by Researchgate.net, written by a team of researchers and scientists coming from several professional fields:
Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra e dell’Ambiente, Università di Pavia

Laboratorio di Genetica, Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e Ricerca Ambientale (ISPRA),

Parco dell’Antola, La Torriglietta, Genove

Department of Environmental Engineering, Aalborg University, Denmark.

 It explains what Italian wolves usually eat and why they sometimes hunt and eat livestock

 “Thanks to protection by law and increasing habitat restoration, wolves (Canis lupus) are currently re-colonizing Europe from the surviving populations of Russia, the Balkan countries, Spain and Italy, raising the need to update conservation strategies. A major conservation issue is to restore connections and gene flow among fragmented populations, thus contrasting the deleterious consequences of isolation. Wolves in Italy are expanding from the Apennines towards the Alps, crossing the Ligurian Mountains (northern Italy) and establishing connections with the Dinaric populations. Wolf expansion is threatened by poaching and incidental killings, mainly due to livestock depredations and conflicts with shepherds, which could limit the establishment of stable populations. Aiming to find out the factors affecting the use of livestock by wolves, in this study we determined the composition of wolf diet in Liguria. We examined 1457 scats collected from 2008 to 2013. Individual scats were geno-typed using a non-invasive genetic procedure, and their content was determined using microscopical analyses. Wolves in Liguria consumed mainly wild ungulates (64.4%; in particular wild boar Sus scrofa and roe deer Capreolus capreolus) and, to a lesser extent, livestock (26.3%; in particular goats Capra hircus). We modeled the consumption of livestock using environmental features, wild ungulate community diversity, husbandry characteristics and wolf social organization (stable packs or dispersing individuals). Wolf diet varied according to years and seasons with an overall decrease of livestock and an increase of wild ungulate consumption, but also between packs and dispersing individuals with greater livestock consumption for the latter. The presence of stable packs, instead of dispersing wolves, the adoption of prevention measures on pastures, roe deer abundance, and the percentage of deciduous woods, reduced predation on livestock. Thus, we suggest promoting wild ungulate expansion, the use of prevention tools in pastures, and supporting wolf pack establishment, avoiding lethal control and poaching, to mitigate conflicts between wolf conservation and husbandry.”

 To read full article-Why Do Wolves a Eat Livestock?- Click HERE

Featured image from: WWF (http://www.wwf.it/lupo/soslupo/

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  About Brunella Pernigotti:

  

 Brunella Pernigotti lives in Turin, Italy. She is a teacher, a writer and a photographer. She published a novel and a book of tales and has to her credit about ten one-man exhibitions of photos. She is member of the board of a non-profit association of Turin, “Tribù del Badnightcafè”, that organizes cultural and artistic events. 
View posts by Brunella Pernigotti: An interview with the filmmakers of the Italian documentary ‘Stories of Men and Wolves’ and also On the trail of the Italian wolf

Jill Fritz: Captive hunts increase CWD concerns

 Sounding the alarm against captive breeding farms used for canned hunts can spread fatal diseases.

Jill Fritz: Captive hunts increase CWD concerns Lansing state Journal  August 14, 2015

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has been sounding the alarm over new cases of chronic wasting disease that were found in three free-ranging deer in the state — and rightly so. CWD is a devastating, fatal disease that has no cure, vaccine or treatment. CWD infects deer, elk and other cervids and is spread through abnormal proteins called prions that can be transmitted through saliva, urine and other bodily fluids.

Jill Fritz is the Michigan state director for The Humane Society of the United States.

Jill Fritz is the Michigan state director for The Humane Society of the United States.

Although the DNR has responded to try and prevent the disease from spreading where the three cases were found, much more remains to be done to stop the disease from arriving in entirely new areas.

CWD was first found in Michigan in 2008 on a captive breeding farm, where deer, elk and other animals are raised to sell to captive or “canned” hunts. Animals at these facilities are stocked and shot behind fenced enclosures for guaranteed trophies. These pay-to-slay operations bear no resemblance to traditional hunting, as they lack the core element of “fair chase.” In fact, it’s not uncommon for captive hunts to offer “no kill, no pay” policies or boast about their “100 percent success rates.”

Outspoken musician Ted Nugent even owns a canned hunt in our state. Nugent has publicly defended the illegal killing of Cecil the lion — which, although deplorable – is unsurprising, since he’s pleaded guilty to poaching crimes of his own. Cecil’s death has brought a sinister spotlight to the entire trophy hunting industry — especially canned hunting.

These ranches pose significant risks to our native deer herd, in part because they stock their animals at such unnaturally high densities. This greatly increases the risk of transmitting CWD. Captive hunts also have an ongoing need for fresh animals to shoot, so live animals are often shipped and trucked throughout the state. Because there is no live test for CWD, it’s impossible to know whether the animals entering Michigan are infected.

Unlike other wildlife diseases, the prions that cause CWD can survive in the soil for years — so even if a herd with CWD is completely decimated, any new animals brought onto the land can contract the disease years later. In Wisconsin, where CWD continues to spread, the DNR spent nearly half a million dollars to protect wild herds from coming into contact with contaminated soil.

It’s nearly impossible to control the spread of CWD in wild deer — especially considering our lawmakers’ senseless war against wolves, who improve the health of wild herds by eliminating CWD-infected deer. A healthy wolf population is an economic boon to the state, because wolves prey on the sick deer and act as a firewall against the spread of CWD from other states.

Without a vibrant population of nature’s best defense against this disease, we must commit to an even stronger offense. The first step is making sure that CWD doesn’t enter our state on the back of someone’s truck en route to stocking a canned hunt.

Story Source