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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As the Associated Press reports the judges ruled that,

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

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

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

“If the wolf is not listed on the federal endangered list and is not listed on the state endangered list, the department shall allow the hunting and trapping of wolves and shall regulate such hunting and trapping as provided in this section and shall implement a wolf management plan. In regulating wolf hunting and trapping, the department may limit the number of wolf hunters and trappers and the number of wolves that may be taken by issuing wolf harvesting licenses.” 2012 Wisconsin Act 169

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are wolves killing more livestock?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stop the Wyoming Grizzly Hunt…

Trophy hunts are about power not conservation, and once again the state of Wyoming proves it’s not about protecting endangered species. In a unanimous vote Wyoming state’s Fish and Game Commission approved the hunting of 22 grizzly bears in the fall, in areas east and south of the Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. This lastest blow to the preservation of grizzly bears comes on the heals of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rolled back protections on grizzlies just last year. Grizzly bears have been protected under the ESA for forty-two years.

This will no doubt be the last straw for advocates working to protect America’s treasured grizzly bear. This will be the first hunt on Grizzly bears in 44 years.

Trophy Hunts on Endangered Species Must Never Be Tolerated, Especially so Close to a National Park’s Boundary

In a statement to The Hill Nicole Paquette, vice president of wildlife for the Humane Society, said the rule was primed to benefit trophy hunters.

“The goal of trophy hunters is to slay the world’s rarest and most iconic animals for nothing more than a macabre display of body parts and for bragging rights. It’s shameful that the Commission has chosen to subject Wyoming’s grizzly bears to such a fate,” she said in a statement. “This decision is reckless and ignores the best available science, which shows that grizzly bears need greater, not less, protections if they are to survive.”

The Commission received more than 185,000 comments opposing the proposed hunt, Paquette said.

Grizzly bears, along with wolves, are a big draw for Yellowstone National Park’s tourism industry.

Grizzlies are not the first endangered species just off the list to be slated for a trophy hunt. Yellowstone’s wolves face an uncertain future due to trophy hunts being allowed just beyond the park’s borders.

https://vimeo.com/264686221

“Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy-The Yellowstone Story” A film that presents the viewer with a complete picture of what it means to advocate for an imperiled species protected within Yellowstone National Park; contrasted against an uncertain future because of wolf hunting taking place just beyond the park’s borders.

Here’s what you can do to help preserve our wildlife from unprecedented trophy hunts

Keep the pressure up on your elected officials in Congress and the state of Wyoming.

Say no to the killing of endangered species just off the list. #StopWyomingsGrizzlyHunt

“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

Hopefully grizzly bear advocates will gather outside Yellowstone & Teton National Park entrances to protest the trophy hunt on America’s treasured grizzly bear. This will be the first hunt on Grizzly bears in 44 years.

Featured photograph by John E Marriott

Humane Society of the United States exposes predator killing contests in an undercover story.

Killing to conserve a species is not conservation. The following story by Humane Society of the United States exposes the cruelty taking place in predator killing contests.

Undercover video takes viewers into grisly world of wildlife killing contests published on May 3rd 2018.

On a freezing, rainy Sunday night, cold beer flows freely at the weigh-in and judging phase of the Parlin Buck Club’s fourth Annual 24-Hour Predator Killing Contest in Barnegat, New Jersey. An undercover investigator for the Humane Society of the United States films a group of men laughing and posing in front of about 15 dead foxes hanging by their feet from a rack. Several weeks earlier and a few hundred miles away, our investigator filmed participants in the Bark at the Moon Coyote Club’s New York State Predator Hunt in Macedon near Lake Ontario, as they placed the animals they’d killed in rows outside a restaurant. About 200 animals were piled up to be counted, weighed and displayed.

These scenes of casual indifference to the suffering and death of animals are captured in our undercover investigation video of wildlife killing contests in New York state and New Jersey. The investigation was carried out in early 2018.

We’ve discussed these grisly spectacles before, where participants compete to win prizes for gathering the most animal carcasses; sadly, they happen more often than you might imagine. Our investigators’ video gives you a chance to witness for yourself what goes on at these depraved and cruel events.

The most common victims of these killing contests are native carnivores like coyotes, foxes and bobcats, but other species in the crosshairs include crows, wild pigs, squirrels, rattlesnakes, raccoons, rabbits, porcupines, badgers, skunks and even mountain lions and wolves. Countless dependent young may be orphaned during these events, left to die from starvation, predation or exposure.

While some contest organizers say the events provide a service to hunters by removing animal species that also eat deer or turkeys, there is no science to support that claim. On the contrary, it is their victims, the native carnivores they kill, who provide vital ecological services. They do so by controlling populations of other species, benefiting crop and timber growth and supporting biodiversity.

[Related: Wildlife killing contests are animal welfare and conservation disgrace]

We’re making progress in our fight to stop these horrible events. In 2014, California banned contests in which cash or prizes valued at $500 or more are offered. Colorado now limits the number of animals that can be killed by wildlife killing contest participants. In 2017, Maryland placed a moratorium on cownose ray killing contests in the Chesapeake Bay. In New York, Assembly member Deborah Glick, D-Manhattan, and Senator Phil Boyle, R-Bay Shore, have introduced legislation that would end this senseless practice. In coming months, more states will put forward proposals that seek to prohibit these killing contests, and we’ll be backing them.

Last fall, we launched our toolkit, “Wildlife Killing Contests: A Guide to Ending the Blood Sport in Your Community,” which has become a valuable resource for wildlife advocates, organizations and even city governments. We have also joined with Project Coyote and 19 other like-minded local, state and national organizations to form the National Coalition to End Wildlife Killing Contests, to increase public education and to encourage policy change at the local and state levels.

To help make a difference, sign our petition calling on your state’s wildlife management agency to put an end to these cruel, pointless and counterproductive wildlife killing contests.

________________________________________________________________________________________________

Check out Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin’s new film project about wolf advocates, “The Yellowstone Story” Yellowstone’s wolves face trophy hunters ready to kill them as soon as they step across park boundaries. Meet the wolf advocates fighting for the legacy of Yellowstone’s wolves…

Watch our pitch trailer

https://vimeo.com/264686221

A film that presents the viewer with a complete picture of what it means to advocate for an imperiled species protected within Yellowstone National Park; contrasted against an uncertain future because of wolf hunting taking place just beyond the park’s borders.

“Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy- The Yellowstone Story” tells the stories of people working to preserve the legacy of wolves in Yellowstone National Park. A Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Film. Produced by Rachel Tilseth and Maaike Middleton and Directed by Rachel Tilseth. In this clip wolf advocates share their stories. Ilona Popper is a writer and advocate for wolves. Dr. Nathan Varley and Linda Thurston Wildlife biologists and business owners of The Wild Side Tours & Treks in Yellowstone National Park. Song credits: “Don’t Know Why, But They Do” Words & Music by Joe De Benedetti & Noah Hill. B roll credits thanks to National Park Service. www.wolvesofdouglascountywisconsin.com for more information. To support the film through a tax free contribution go to https://www.planb.foundation/News/82/inside-the-heart-of-wolf-advocacy

Learn more about our film project by clicking here.

A Film Project “Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy – The Yellowstone Story”

A film that presents the viewer with a complete picture of what it means to advocate for an imperiled species protected within Yellowstone National Park; contrasted against an uncertain future because of wolf hunting taking place just beyond the park’s borders.

“Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy- The Yellowstone Story” tells the stories of people working to preserve the legacy of wolves in Yellowstone National Park. A Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Film. Produced by Rachel Tilseth And Maaike Middleton and Directed by Rachel Tilseth. Make a tax deductible contribution here to support the film project.

These stories will be the inspiration that helps the viewer to gain insight into the heart of wolf advocacy. Marc Cooke is one of the wolf advocates with a story to tell. Mark Cooke founded the nonprofit called Wolves of the Rockies headquartered out of Stevensville, Montana.

https://vimeo.com/264686221

Marc Cooke was born in Connecticut and living between both Cape Cod and Connecticut to a family of law enforcement officers. He attended parochial, public and private educational institution. During his childhood, he began what was to become a lifelong enjoyment and commitment to both domestic animals and wildlife well-being.

Marc Cooke After completion of higher education at Johnson & Wales University, he joined the United States Army to begin what would become a steady commitment to giving back to this country and causes he believed in. While in the military he was stationed in Germany and helped support Desert Storm and Desert Shield. It was during this time he met and married Lorenza and eventually moved to Switzerland.

After being Repatriated to Cape Cod Massachusetts for several years and continuing to have an interest in horses and wildlife. He eventually moved west and settled down in North West Montana.

https://vimeo.com/266407182

Enjoying all that Montana has to offer he quickly realized that wildlife was unnecessarily being abused for pleasure and profit. He became active at the grassroots level to abolish trapping in Montana. All the while watching the beginning of irrational hatred and abuse meant for wolves that had been reintroduced into Yellowstone and Idaho. He quickly shifted gears and began attending wolf related private and public hearings. It didn’t take long to realize that wolves were being railroaded and had virtually no grassroots support to defend and protect these animals at the local level. Livestock producers and all consumptive and trophy hunting organization were having their way with future wolf management in Montana and elsewhere.

As an individual, no county, state or federal decision-makers were listening. This was when Marc and several other pro-wolf individuals began National Wolf Watcher Coalition a 501 (C) 3 nonprofit. This eventually led to another nonprofit he founded called Wolves of the Rockies headquartered out of Stevensville, Montana.

Wolves of the Rockies is the most active local and national wolf defender and protector in Montana. Wolves of the Rockies has developed long-term relationships with other hunting and pro-wolf state and national conservation organizations. Along with decision makers such as Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Commissioners and state and federal elected officials.

Marc Cooke Under Wolves of the Rockies leadership, we have achieved many pro-wolf accomplishments. The creation of two subunits 313 & 316 that border Yellowstone National Park. They have gone from no wolf killing quota to only being able to hunt or trap two wolves in each. Also, no individual hunter can kill more than one wolf in 313 & 316. Rewards for the apprehension of Yellowstone wolf poachers, derailing the intention of extending wolf hunting season in the Bitterroot Valley that would have allowed the hunting of midterm pregnant wolves. He pushed for a Montana Trapping Advisory Committee that will represent the anti-trapping public. Closing the wolf hunting season around Yellowstone National Park for several months one year. WotR has derailed or softened many legislative bills that were considered anti-wolf and carnivore.

More on this documentary film project …

Inside the “Heart of Wolf Advocacy-The Yellowstone” Story is the story of the people that advocate to preserve the legacy of wolves in Yellowstone. Here’s more on the other wolf advocates in the film.

Ilona Popper writer, wolf watcher and member of Bear Creek Council.

Rick Lamplugh author and member of Bear Creek Council.

Nathan is the owner of The Wild Side, LLC, a wildlife touring business specializing in outfitting groups of all ages to view wolves and other wildlife in Yellowstone National Park.

And more interviews…

Along with interviews from the Yellowstone Wolf Project Doug Smith, Rick McIntyre and Kira Cassidy.

“Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy-The Yellowstone Story”. presents the viewer with a complete picture of what it means to advocate for an imperiled species protected within Yellowstone National Park; contrasted against an uncertain future because of wolf hunts taking place just beyond the park’s borders.

About the producers…

Maaike Middleton Co Producer

M.A Documentary by Practice, University of London – Royal Holloway

Graduated with Merit  B.A Media & Theatre Arts, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana, Graduated Cum Laude

Raised in the Paradise Valley, schooled in London, traveled to 25+ countries, rooted in the Montana wilds. Growing up in Paradise Valley all I wanted to do was travel and see the world. After getting my BA in Filmmaking from Montana State University I did just that. I traveled to some amazing places, from the wild Gobi dessert in Mongolia to the temples of Angor Wat in Cambodia to the hustle and bustle of London where I received a Masters in Documentary filmmaking from the University of London. Returning to Paradise Valley to document the beauty that surrounds me daily. My passport ever ready for the next international adventure and hiking boots ready to explore the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Rachel Tilseth Co Producer and Director

Rachel holds a Batchelor of Science Degree in Art Education, graduated Cum Laude and is a retired art teacher. Tilseth’s interests in nature, specifically wolves, led her to advocate for wolves and wildlife. In the year 2000 she became involved in WI DNR Wolf Recovery Program working as a volunteer winter wolf tracker to present. She founded the blog and social media network Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin to bring education and awareness to Wisconsin’s wild wolf. Tilseth has spent several years speaking out against wolf trophy hunts. Tilseth is active in working to ban Wolf Hounding in Wisconsin. She has a strong background in the visual arts. She’s a sculptor and oil painter. Tilseth has expanded her interest into filmmaking. She’s currently in the process of creating a documentary film about the heart of wolf advocacy.

Donate Here

We now have a fiscal sponsor for our film. To make a tax deductible contribution go to Plan B Foundation and donate today! Five percent of your donation goes to help wolves and wolf programs throughout the USA.

Featured photograph by Wild at Heart Images Sandi Sisti

Education and Awareness Wins Over Angry Rhetoric Every Time…

Advice for wining the war-on-wolves. There’s a culture of trolling, attention seekers, and the haters in the comment section on every wolf advocacy page. Those trolls can create a culture of angry rhetoric real fast. It’s my experience (been doing this since the year 2000) that anyone claiming to kill a wolf and use the “SSS” method more than likely are ALL talk. Probably have never even seen a wolf, and if they did would pee their pants in fear. Spending our time fighting these types is a real waste of time. It gets the wolf advocacy movement “nowhere” real fast. The aggressive approach simply doesn’t work.

“How can you stop yourself from yelling and shouting and accusing everyone of cruelty? The easy answer is that the aggressive approach simply doesn’t work.” ~Jane Goodall

We cannot create an atmosphere of compassion, respect & coexistence for wolves if we are fighting and arguing online with the small fish (trolls & attention seekers). Meanwhile, the politicians are enjoying the online show of angry rhetoric. It’s what politicians live for and use to keep the focus off the real issues.

Angry rhetoric on Facebook keeps the wolf advocacy movement polarized. There’s probably many people out there who would get involved, but won’t because of all the screamers, ranters, the trolls, and the likes of which are displayed within wolf advocacy sites. Let’s face facts that extremist’s voices are drowning out any and all intelligent conversation within the wolf advocacy movement.

Education and awareness are key components to winning the war on wolves.

Instead we must use scientific facts and real life experiences working with wolves as our best weapon to win the war on wolves. We must rise above the angry rhetoric, after all we have the moral-high-ground because trophy hunts are about power not conservation. Wolves are a part of Wisconsin’s wild legacy.

“Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.” ~Plato

We must carry the banner forward in compassion for both humans and wolves and wildlife in order to win the war on wolves being waged by special interests groups and unscrupulous politicians.

Respect for all matters…

Featured image from John E Marriott

~~~

Join us at Sedona Wolf Week

Wolves are a part of Wisconsin’s wild legacy…

Wolves have an amazing olfactory sense. They will blow on the bed where a White-tailed deer slept causing all the particles to flow up and into their olfactory sense. By doing this the wolf can tell if the White-tailed deer is healthy or not. A wolf can tell if the tick that fell off the White-tailed deer has puss in the blood. Wolves can tell if a White-tailed deer has a tooth infection by smelling a chewed leaf. Wolves have kept a healthy balance in the wild for centuries. Yet, the politician claims to be the best at deciding the fate of the wolf. Stand firm, speak for wolves, because we have the moral high-ground. Wolves are a part of Wisconsin’s wild legacy. They keep the White-tailed deer healthy.

Featured image by John E Marriott

Latest blogs

Round Two in Public Hearings as SB 602 Fails the Fact-Check-Test…

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

“Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy-The Yellowstone Story” become a valued donor…

Holding a trophy hunt on an endangered species just off the list must never be tolerated 

Wolves need your help…

It wasn’t that long ago when Richard Thiel spent every weekend snowshoeing along the Wisconsin Minnesota border in Douglas county searching for established wolf packs.  When he found established wolf packs in Wisconsin the Department of Natural Resources had to give him an office.  That’s when Wisconsin’s wild wolf recovery program began in the late 1970s.

Congress’s Fiscal Year 18 spending bill has provisions that will remove ESA protections for gray wolves in the Great Lakes.

When I began tracking wolves in Douglas County Wisconsin there were 66 wolf packs (the year 2000). I could of never imagined that eleven years later wolves would be designated a game animal to be hunted as a prized trophy animal.  It did happen on December 28, 2011 “Gray Wolves Delisted in Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment” by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.  Shortly after wolves were delisted the Wisconsin legislature, pushed by Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association and others, on April 2, 2011 Act 169 mandated a wolf hunt. Not only did the Wisconsin legislature mandate a wolf hunt for when they were delisted, but they sanctioned the use of dogs to hunt wolves. When the Wisconsin wolf isn’t listed on the Endangered Species List he’s hunted down with hounds. The barbaric wolf-hounding used for centuries in Europe to exterminate the Gray wolf was now part of Wisconsin’s trophy hunt of wolves.

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

Holding a trophy hunt on an endangered animal just off the list should never be tolerated, but in Wisconsin it’s legislatively mandated, and considered wolf management.  The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, charged with overseeing the wolf hunt, has no rules in place that require hound handlers to report dogs injured or killed in the pursuit of wolves during a hunt. In fact, there is no monitoring or certification program whatsoever in place for the use of dogs in the wolf hunt; thus the state has little ability to hold hound hunters accountable for training or hunting violations or to prevent deadly and inhumane wolf-dog confrontations (e.g., hunters allowing dogs to overtake and kill rifle-shot wolves). These circumstances explain why Wisconsin stands alone: using dogs to hunt wolves is no better than state-sponsored dog fighting.

Congress’s Fiscal Year 18 spending bill has provisions that will remove ESA protections for gray wolves in the Great Lakes.

In Congress both the House and Senate versions include language that will remove federal Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Further, the provision would bar judicial review of the action. This language overrides a federal appeals court ruling last year that maintained protections for wolves in the western Great Lakes region.

Urgent: action is needed to keep Gray wolves protected.

Urge them to reject these harmful provisions being added in the spending bill, and to keep Gray wolves protected under the ESA.

Here’s an easy link you can use to email your members of congress at democracy.io #KeepWolvesListed! And out of the hands of states, like Wisconsin for one, that sanctions wolf-hounding!

Below I’ve included some history of Wisconsin’s wild wolf for you to read.

It was 1978, and there had been no resident timber wolves in Wisconsin for twenty years. Still, packs were active in neighboring Minnesota, and there was the occasional rumor from Wisconsin’s northwestern counties of wolf sign or sightings. Had wolves returned on their own to Wisconsin? Richard Thiel, then a college student with a passion for wolves, was determined to find out.

Thus begins Keepers of the Wolves, Thiel’s tale of his ten years at the center of efforts to track and protect the recovery of wolves in Northern Wisconsin. From his early efforts as a student enthusiast to his departure in 1989 from the post of wolf biologist for the Department of Natural Resources, Thiel conveys the wonder, frustrations, humor, and everyday hard work of field biologists, as well as the politics and public relations pitfalls that so often accompany their profession.

We share in the excitement as Thiel and his colleagues find wolf tracks in the snow, howl in the forest night and are answered back, learn to safely trap wolves to attach radio collars, and track the packs’ ranges by air from a cramped Piper Cub. We follow the stories of individual wolves and their packs as pups are born and die, wolves are shot by accident and by intent, ravages of canine parvovirus and hard winters take their toll, and young adults move on to new ranges. Believing he had left his beloved wolves behind, Thiel takes a new job as an environmental educator in central Wisconsin, but soon wolves follow. By 1999, there were an estimated 200 timber wolves in 54 packs in Wisconsin.

This is a sequel to Dick Thiel’s 1994 book, The Timber Wolf in Wisconsin: The Death and Life of a Majestic Predator. That book traced the wolf’s history in Wisconsin, its near extinction, and the initial efforts to reestablish it in our state. Thiel’s new book looks at how successful that program has been. Available on Amazon

~~~

Featured image of wolves by John E Marriott