Opinion Editorial: Proposal to delist wolves will lead to problems

Source: Journal Sentinel  by Mary Falk , February 15, 2017
We sure don’t need our state’s U.S. senators signing off on bills allowing wolves to be indiscriminately killed.

I raise cattle, sheep and goats on 200 acres in Burnett County, where my family runs a small cheese plant. Since our farm connects to a wildlife corridor, our land is host to a multitude of wildlife which, in turn, attracts various predators including coyotes, plenty of bears, an odd cougar and gray wolves. Compared to the coyotes and bears, the wolves are pretty rare.
Senators Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson recently joined other lawmakers in introducing legislation to remove Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Wyoming. This is a short-sighted proposal that would open the door to trophy hunting and trapping of gray wolves, and it shouldn’t be allowed to move forward.
Leaving aside for a moment how much has been invested into preventing wolves from vanishing altogether, this proposal has the potential to create big headaches for small farmers. The consequences of allowing wolf hunts in my neck of the woods are predictable: It’s going to disrupt the delicate balance we’ve spent years working out to keep predators at bay.
We’re a hunting family, but in 30 years, we’ve never had to shoot a predator to defend our livestock. I give all the credit to my livestock guardian dogs. Last year, for example, as my son was bow hunting he watched a wolf trot through our property and head toward our farm. He then heard our dogs go ballistic, barking up a storm as they ran the wolf off the property. Because of the defense put up by our livestock guard dogs, our livestock were never endangered.

Once predators such as wolves and coyotes become accustomed to the barriers set down by guard dogs, they will train their pups to respect those same boundaries. A pack that respects the guard dog boundaries also helps to keep out other packs by utilizing similar territorial techniques that dogs use.

Sanction the non-prescription killing of wolves, however, and you’re bound to upset this balance and trigger more problems. If hunters take aim at wolves in one place, the wolves will just flee to new territory, possibly catching farmers off guard with unwanted visitors they’ve never before had to confront.
I’ve received quite a few phone calls from farmers in search of guard dogs in central Minnesota, who were being visited by wolves and had not seen them previous to the last sanctioned wolf hunt.
Meanwhile, suppressing wolves — which are already listed as federally endangered because they’re so rare — can bring a host of unforeseen consequences. For instance, scientists tell us that a healthy wolf population can be important to keep populations of wild deer in check. Deer overpopulation can introduce unwanted pests, weeds, disease and overgrazing on natural flora and farm crops.
There are many available tools for protecting livestock from predators. Some farmers utilize permanent electric fencing, portable fencing or night penning to safeguard herds when it isn’t possible to keep watch over them. All of these nonlethal options for dealing with predators can be employed without disrupting the natural balance.
We sure don’t need our state’s U.S. senators signing off on bills allowing wolves to be indiscriminately killed. I hope that Baldwin and Johnson will rethink their position on this short-sighted legislation.
Mary Falk is co-owner of LoveTree Farmstead Cheese in Grantsburg.

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Foxlights, a nighttime predator deterrent, are saving lives with lights all over the world. 

Available in Wisconsin. Contact rachelfoxlights@gmail.com 

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Foxlights are just one tool farmers can use to coexist with wolves

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Featured image by: 

John E Marriott

Foxlights are just one of the nonlethal methods farmers can use to coexist with wolves

In Wisconsin Foxlights kept wolves away from a cow calf operation in Douglas county.  U.S. Department of Agriculture APHIS-Wildlife Services in northern Wisconsin purchased 25 of the solar powered Foxlights; USDA Experiments With New Tool To Deter Wolves, and 12 of the Foxlights were placed on a farm in Douglas county.  The farm, a cow calf operation, was also using fladry on thier fences to scare away wolves.    Fladry is a string of flags that flutter in the wind. Photograph Oregon Dept. of Fish & Game 
 Wisconsin Wildlife Services installed the lights recently on a Douglas County farm experiencing wolf problems.  So I was curious to find out if the Foxlights did thier job.  I placed a follow up call to APHIS-USDA, David Ruid, supervisory wildlife biologist with Wildlife Services, and asked Ruid if the solar Foxlights made any difference. According to Ruid 12 solar Foxlights were used for seven days without any depredations by wolves.  

The Foxlights were employed at the end of calving season for seven days to deter problem wolves. The Foxlights were on loan to the cow calf operation and were returned to APHIS-USDA because the cows and calves were moved to another pasture. 

Foxlights saved the lives of cows, calves and wolves 

I believe Foxlights are just one of the nonlethal method farmers can use to coexist with wolves, that a wolf hunt is not the answer to conflicts between livestock producers and wolves; the number of farms affected by wolf depredations is small when compared to the number of operations within the state of Wisconsin. 

I’m looking to install  some Foxlights on farms in northern Wisconsin on a trial basis. If you are interested please email me at: rachelfoxlights@gmail.com

 

www.foxlights.com

 
The following video is of an interview with creator and founder of Foxlights out of Australia. Ian had just began developing a solar version of Foxlights.  For information on Foxlights a nighttime nonlethal predator deterrent go to: www.foxlights.com 

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A summary of the history of wolf management in Wisconsin- Wolves were all but eradicated in Wisconsin by the late 1960s due to over hunting. In 1974 – Gray wolf listed as endangered in the lower 48 States and Mexico. Wolves flourished under the guidance of Wisconsin’s Wolf Recovery Program. On Dec. 28, 2011 wolves were delisted: the Western Great Lakes DPS – Revising the Listing of the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) in the Western Great Lakes. Politicians rushed in to designate wolves as a game species that could be hunted on 2011, Wisconsin Legislation Act 169: if the wolf is not listed on the federal endangered list and is not listed on the state endangered list, the department shall allow the hunting and trapping of wolves. Hunting, trapping and the barbaric use of dogs to hunt wolves began in the fall of 2012 and was abruptly halted in 2014; 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 on December 19, 2914.