In all, about half a dozen dogs and (about a half dozen) wolves, as well as several raccoons, weasels and raptors, have been killed by poison in Marinette, Florence and Forest counties, Harrenstein said. Lab tests confirmed the animals were killed by toxic substances, the DNR said in a news release. Source Wisconsin Public Radio
Investigators are offering a reward of $1,000 for any information related to the poisonings that leads to an arrest or charges. The legal consequences for the poisonings could include fines and jail time, depending on which species are ultimately affected. Source Wisconsin Public Radio
Be Leary of anyone in the area claiming to investigate the poisonings. Amateur sleuths could potentially interfere with the work of trained investigators. Wisconsin Conservation Wardens are highly trained and on the case. If you see anything suspicious in the area call the wildlife officials.
Anyone with information or a tip is asked to contact the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Violation Hotline by calling or texting 1-800-TIP-WDNR or 1-800-847-9367. You also may report online at the WDNR website. The hotline is in operation24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Trained staff relay information to conservation wardens.
In 2019, Andrew Lundin, a lieutenant conservation warden with the DNR, told Wisconsin Public Radio someone could be targeting wolves to eliminate predators in the area. Source Wisconsin Public Radio
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Conservation Wardens are on the case investigating the illegal killing of a Gray wolf. The Gray wolf in the photograph was found dead on a driveway in Washburn county on February 22, 2020. So far all that is known is the wolf was shot and killed on private property. Gray wolves in Wisconsin are a federally protected endangered species . If you have any information related to this crime please call the WDNR’s tip line 1-800-847-9367 to confidently share your information.
People convicted of killing a federally protected wolf can face up to six months in jail and/or a $25,000 fine, according to the WI DNR . Penalties can include the loss of a hunting license.
…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…
I enjoyed reading John Anderson’s perspective concerning his recent opinion editorial where he makes a strong case for the wolf; Perhaps it is time for us to ask why one species is given a black mark beside it and another is elevated to a position of reverence. I give you the wolf and the bald eagle.”
John Andersen: The difference between eagles and wolves Mar 3, 2018
Over the past few weeks I read some great news in several newspapers, including this one. With great fanfare it has come to pass that the bald eagle has returned from the brink of extinction. Through the use of science and facts, DDT was banned as a pesticide in 1972. The result today is that there are 1,600 occupied eagle nests in virtually every part of the state.
This is outstanding news. Using simple math, that means there are about 3,200 adult eagles around. All 72 counties have eagle nests in them, and here in Lake Hallie, eagles are becoming a more common sight. No longer do you have a take a trip “up north” or drive down to Wabasha, Minnesota, to see them in the winter months. Bald eagles are becoming a success story throughout the nation and in Wisconsin. So when does the hunting season on them start?
In consulting the literature, there are plenty of problems with having too many bald eagles. First of all, the moral character of the bald eagle is appalling. No other than Founding Father Benjamin Franklin said about bald eagles:
““For my own part, I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen the representative of our country. He is a bird of bad moral character. He does not get his living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead tree near the river, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labour of the fishing hawk; and when that diligent bird has at length taken a fish, and is bearing it to his nest for the support of his mate and young ones, the bald eagle pursues him and takes it from him.” Ben Franklin wished our national symbol to be the wild turkey, which considering what is going on in Washington right now, is not a bad idea.
Of course we have all heard the stories of bald eagles carrying off small children. Eagles also have been known to carry off pets. Bald eagles raise a holy terror with the family chickens, and of course everyone has lost fish off a line to bald eagles. Perhaps the Legislature could petition the federal government to remove the bald eagle from the endangered species list and leave the regulation of bald eagles to the state of Wisconsin and the other 49 states.
Wisconsin could then set up a lottery for hunting bald eagles. There would be no age requirement for a license, you could wear blaze pink while hunting them, and a local merchant could set up a “big eagle” contest for the largest wingspan. Yes I know that some eagles would be poached and some would not be registered, but what the heck. Stuff happens. Yes I also know that the Native Americans have legends about the eagle and revere them in tribal culture, but we can do what we have done for the wolves and give then 50 percent of the kill permits.
At this point, some people’s heads have exploded, and they are wondering what ear I am pulling this nonsense out of. Perhaps it is time for us to ask why one species is given a black mark beside it and another is elevated to a position of reverence. I give you the wolf and the bald eagle.
“But it is a funny thing, I never hear people blame bald eagles when they don’t catch any fish. Fish are the main course for them. Yet they blame wolves when they don’t shoot a deer.”
As of 2017 the Wisconsin DNR projects the wolf population in Wisconsin to be 925 or about one third as many bald eagles. Remember the same DNR also did the projections on the bald eagle count in Wisconsin. We still see TV ads and print ads featuring the wolf as the bad guy. Perhaps it is time to stop that nonsense.
The wolf and the bald eagle fit into the ecosystem for a purpose. Both are predators that thin the populations of the prey they feed on. But it is a funny thing, I never hear people blame bald eagles when they don’t catch any fish. Fish are the main course for them. Yet they blame wolves when they don’t shoot a deer.
The town of Hallie was built upon land that our ancestors called “Wolf Prairie.” The bald eagles have returned here. Maybe someday a wolf will wander through its ancestral home; hopefully it won’t be promptly shot by “accident.”
John R. Andersen of Lake Hallie is a former state employee who remains active in the fields of fire prevention, government and education.
Wisconsin’s northern and central forests are home to 955 gray wolves. Wisconsin is one of about a dozen states in the country with a wild gray wolf population. Gray wolves, also referred to as timber wolves, are the largest wild members of the dog family. Wolves are social animals, living in family groups or packs. A wolf’s territory may cover 20-80 square miles, which is about one tenth the size of an average Wisconsin county. WDNR Website about wolves
The following video clip was shot in July 2017. When we got out of the vehicle a Raven began to talk to us.
The gray wolf in the western Great Lakes region is currently on the Federal Endangered Species List. This listing status limits the state of Wisconsin’s management authority including the authority to hold a trophy hunts on wolves.
Photograph by Rachel Tilseth 03/04/18. Gray wolf travels down gravel road in northern Wisconsin.
Photograph by Rachel Tilseth 03/04/18. Lichen covered trees in northern Wisconsin.
Photograph by Rachel Tilseth 03/04/18. A wolf scat in the center of the gravel road. White-tailed deer hair and bones can be seen in this wolf scat.
Photograph by Rachel Tilseth 03/04/18. Gray wolf track in mud.
Photograph by Rachel Tilseth 03/04/18. There are gravel roads in wolf habitat spanning up to nine miles with little or no signs of human development.
I filmed this video clip two summers ago.
Featured photograph by Rachel Tilseth 03/04/18 in wolf county.
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.
In 2016 41 dogs were killed in the pursuit of bear in northern Wisconsin. Are any wolves being injured or killed in the decades-old conflict between bear hunters and wolves? In a call to the USFWS services Great Lakes Office I asked them that question. USFWS didn’t have an answer for me. My concern is that when USFWS investigates a wolf depredation on a hunting dog; do they investigate if any wolves were injured or killed as a result of the encounter? Wolves are an endangered species protected under the Endangered Species Act. The word “protected” was the sticking point for me. Criminally harassing protected gray wolves is a violation of the ESA.
There is hope for a solution to the deacades-old conflict between bear hunters and wolves, and it’s a legal one.
On August 2nd a letter was sent to USFWS: “This is a formal request for an investigation of alleged criminal violations relating to the illegal take of the federally protected gray wolf (Canis lupus) in Wisconsin. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (“PEER”) has learned of ongoing illegal harassment of the gray wolf by hound hunters in Wisconsin.” Letter from PEER
The Criminal Complaint Cites State Payments for Hunting Dogs Killed in Wolf Clashes was filed on August 2, 2017 by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
The Criminal Complaint from PEER:
“Washington, DC — Hunters unleashing packs of dogs to tree bears in Wisconsin woods are criminally harassing gray wolves in violation of the Endangered Species Act, according to a complaint filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The complaint cites state payments to hunters to compensate for hunting dogs killed or injured in clashes with wolves as evidence of violations.”
The last sentence in the above paragraph makes it perfectly clear that the evidence is, “…state payments to hunters to compensate for hunting dogs killed or injured in clashes with wolves as evidence of violations.”
Wolves a protected species under the federal ESA are being harassed.
…“Endangered species are legally protected from human activity which adversely affects the animals, not just physical injury but harm to habitat or breeding. Loosing packs of dogs on them absolutely constitutes an adverse impact.” Said, Staff attorney Adam Carlesco (PEER)
In a previous Blog I asked this question; Considering the decades of conflict between bear hunters and wolves; is this becoming harassment of an endangered species? Isn’t this illegal?
The conflict between bear hunters and wolves has been occurring for decades. In a Wisconsin Public Television special about Wisconsin wolves; the conflict between bear hunters and wolves was addressed back in October 2010. Watch the the following video.
The conflict between bear hunters and wolves is a reality, and it continues to play out every summer in Wisconsin’s north woods.
Hunters using dogs in pursuit of bear in the norths woods of Wisconsin run their hounds right through wolf rendezvous sites (where wolf pups are kept). Wolf pups are only about three months old when hunters begin running their dogs on bear. They run hounds through known wolf caution areas; even though WDNR sends out alerts to avoid those areas. In 1982 Wisconsin started a wolf depredation program. Wolf depredation program pays $2,500.00 per hunting dog. In 2016 thirty-seven bear hunting dogs were killed in the pursuit of bear. Several bear hunters received multiple wolf depredation program payments, and even ones with criminal charges; such as poaching a black bear. WODCW’s Blog
We have no way of knowing if wolves are being killed during these encounters occurring every summer; between dogs that are in pursuit of bear, and wolves that are defending their pups. In the PEER criminal complaint, criminal take can occur when a hunter’s activities, “…as appears to be the case here.” The “hunter’s activities” of running dogs in pursuit of bear through wolf rendezvous sites. Read the definition of criminal take from the press release:
“Under the federal Endangered Species Act, criminal “take” does not require proving that the hunter intended to hurt a wolf. Take can occur when a hunter mistakenly shoots an endangered species believed to be a non-listed animal. Criminal take can also occur when a hunter’s activities, though not specifically directed at a listed species, result in take of a listed species, as appears to be the case here.” PEER criminal complaint
Bear hunter’s activities, as in use of dogs in the pursuit of bear can be considered criminal “take” in this criminal complaint. PEER in a Letter to the USFWS law enforcement requested a full investigation:
William C. Woody
Chief, Office of Law Enforcement
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
5600 American Boulevard, West, Suite 990 Bloomington, MN 55437-1458
RE: Request for Criminal Investigation – Violation of the Endangered Species Act
Dear Chief Woody:
This is a formal request for an investigation of alleged criminal violations relating to the illegal take of the federally protected gray wolf (Canis lupus) in Wisconsin. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (“PEER”) has learned of ongoing illegal harassment of the gray wolf by hound hunters in Wisconsin. These activities have led to adverse effects on breeding patterns and the habitat of the gray wolf. PEER believes these activities constitute prima facie evidence of ongoing criminal misconduct.” Letter
A response from the president of the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association Star Tribune article, “Wisconsin tradition – hunting bears with dogs – comes under attack by wolf advocates” Wolf advocates attack Wis. reimbursements. By Josephine Marcotty Star Tribune AUGUST 11, 2017, stated, “…also there are many more wolves, period. Also, the wolves have now devestated the deer population in northern Wisconsin, they have become more aggressive in their search for food, and thus more likely to target our dogs.” Carl Schoettel, president of Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, full response to questions from the Star Tribune.
Wolves are responsible for taking 6% of White-tailed deer population in wolf range in 2014
A “Study sheds light on top causes of deer mortality” conducted in 2014 found that; “…In fact, human hunting was responsible for about twice as much deer mortality in northern Wisconsin than the other four causes combined. The rates of mortality were human hunting 43%, starvation 9%, coyote 7%, wolf 6% and roadkill 6%.” Source
Who’s responsible for the record number of dogs killed by wolves in 2016? We know wolves are killing hunting dogs that run through rendezvous sites where wolf pups are kept. It’s absurd to lay blame exclusively upon an endangered species, wolves in this case. Laying blame on a wild animal that is defending offspring from the activity of human hunters is irresponsible.
“Furthermore, in 2015, the state eliminated the “Class B” bear hound training licenses. While a Class A license or “kill tag” is still required for any hunter wishing to kill a black bear, the Class B licensing requirements have been rescinded. See Wis. Stat. 29.184(3)(a) (stating that no license is required to, among other things, train a dog to track bear or assist a holder of a Class A bear license). Class B requirements mandated that a prospective hunter seeking to train hounds obtain a permit from the state to do so. A Class B permit allowed a hunter to bait bears, train dogs to track bears, act as a back-up shooter, or assist a hunter pursuing a bear. Now both residents and non-residents may run hound dogs through Wisconsin’s wilderness for training purposes unchecked and without licensed oversight from the state.” PEER Letter
Harassment or pursuit of a wolf while hound hunting is prohibited by the ESA.
“Harassment or pursuit of a wolf while hound hunting is a prohibited act as evidenced by the plain language of the ESA’s “take” definition, which includes harassment and pursuit. However, over the course of Wisconsin’s 2016 hunting season, forty-eight hounds were killed by wolves, twenty-one of which occurred on public lands, and more than fifteen of those acts occurred after hunters were informed of the fact that they were hunting in “wolf caution areas.”18 The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources creates specific “wolf caution areas” that warn hunters of previous instances of wolf attacks on hound dogs in a hunting or training situation. To aid hunters, the DNR website features an interactive “Gray Wolf Depredation Mapping Application” which “shows all verified wolf depredations and threats on livestock, hunting dogs and pets as well as verified human health and safety conflicts.”19 Lastly, DNR has an e-mail and text alert system to inform residents about wolf activity in their area.20” PEER criminal complaint letter to USFWS
Such action is in obvious conflict with Congress’ intent to protect a fragile species and constitutes a criminal violation of the ESA.
Additionally, because hound training season in Wisconsin takes place when wolves are raising their pups, the fact that hounds are running through clearly identified wolf territory unchecked means that such actions directly impair the wolves’ ability to breed, feed, and find shelter; activity specifically protected by the plain language of the ESA’s implementing regulations. 50 C.F.R. 17.3. Such action is in obvious conflict with Congress’ intent to protect a fragile species and constitutes a criminal violation of the ESA. PEER criminal complaint letter to USFWS
In a conversation with USFWS Great Lakes Region office over a month or so ago, I asked them if they would investigate bear hunters using dogs in pursuit of bear, because this activity or sport was getting out of hand; not only were a record number of hunting dogs being lost, but I began to think wolves were being harassed by this activity. Hunters were repeatedly going into Wisconsin DNR Wolf caution areas.“Wolf caution areas are created to warn hunters that a specific pack has attacked a dog or group of dogs. Bear hunters are urged to exercise greater caution if they plan to train hounds or hunt bear with hounds near any caution area, especially if near an actual kill site.” From the WDNR wolf caution website
USFWS never got back to me, and my next step was to call PEER, because I had heard good things about their work. In the end, PEER took my concerns seriously, the result is a criminal complaint letter requesting USFWS law enforcement to investigate. There is hope and it’s a legal one. We are now awaiting a response from USFWS.
In 2017 minimum wolf population estimates was 925.
It certainly has been an up and down whirlwind of a week for news on gray wolves. From the disheartening reports out west where wildlife officials are killing members of Washington’s Smackout pack and the Harl Butte pack in Oregon, to the two encouraging news stories concerning Wisconsin wolves.
The first story affecting Wisconsin’s gray wolf was the Washington DC appellate court’s 3-0 decision to retain protection for gray wolves in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. The court cited that the USFWS had not sufficiently considered how loss of historical territory would affect the predator’s recovery and how removing the Great Lakes population segment from the endangered list would affect wolves in other parts of the nation.
The second story affecting Wisconsin’s wolves was Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) filing a criminal complaint citing state payments to hunters to compensate for hunting dogs killed or injured in clashes with wolves as evidence of violations. PEER has requested a criminal investigation for violation of the Endangered Species Act. PEER Staff Counsel Adam Carlesco states, “Endangered species are legally protected from human activity which adversely affects the animals, not just physical injury but harm to habitat or breeding. Loosing packs of dogs on them absolutely constitutes an adverse impact.”
“Wisconsin encourages hunting practices that seem calculated to cause fatal conflicts with wolves,” ~Adam Carlesco, PEER
According to PEER, the WI DNR has not been authorized to give payments for hound depredations since 2014, but have been doing so in violation of Wisc. Stat. § 29.888 since then. This statute reads as follows:
“The department shall administer a wolf depredation program under which payments may be made to persons who apply for reimbursement for death or injury caused by wolves to livestock, to hunting dogs other than those being actively used in the hunting of wolves, and to pets and for management and control activities conducted by the department for the purpose of reducing such damage caused by wolves. The department may make payments for death or injury caused by wolves under this program only if the death or injury occurs during a period time when the wolf is not listed on the federal endangered list and is not listed on the state endangered list.”
“Wisconsin DNR does not pretend to manage bear hunting in any discernible fashion, nor do they even bother to monitor what is taking place.” ~Adam Carlesco, PEER
Rachel Tilseth, worked closely with PEER in gathering information for this criminal investigation. Rachel reached out to PEER a couple months ago requesting their help and stated that she was impressed at the amount of investigation, research, and digging that PEER did. Read her blog on this story here. WPR will be publishing more on this story. Email us at email@example.com for more information.
Both of these stories are wonderful news for Wisconsin’s gray wolf, but this is no time to rest on our laurels; we must remain vigilant and continue advocating. US Senate bill S1514 is getting closer to coming to the Senate floor for a vote. This bill would permanently delist wolves in the Great Lakes states, and preclude any judicial review – no appeals period – taking away a fundamental bedrock of our democracy. Our wolves deserve better than this.
Photograph by Beth Phillips taken of the Lamar Canyon Pack while visiting Yellowstone National Park, March 2016
Opinion Editorial: The hauntingly beautiful howl of a wolf stirs something in my inner soul and leaves me wanting these creatures to remain forever in our wild places. But I fear wolves may soon become nothing more than a distant memory; that is if our backward-thinking politicians have their way. Presently, there is legislation in congress to delist wolves in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, and Wyoming, that will hand over management of wolves back to the states. Wisconsin held three trophy hunts on wolves, just off the endangered species list, and that proves it is hostile to wolves.
Even worse, Wisconsin is the only state to use dogs to hunt wolves. How is pitting dogs and wolves against each other considered wolf management? Wisconsin’s policy makers must have science- and fact-based policies in place if they want to manage wolves. A wolf hunt is not based on science, or what’s best for the species or people living in wolf range.
Why does wolf management immediately equate to one thing – hunting? Wisconsin has a law, Act 169, which specifically states, “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….” To immediately begin a hunt on an animal that the state has spent 40 years to protect appears to be backwards in its thinking. In essence, we’ve spent the last half century saving wolves from near extinction only to turn around and begin killing them all over again.
According to the WI DNR, the majority of Wisconsin residents have a favorable view of wolves and prefer maintaining or increasing the wolf population. Plus, scientists Adrian Treves of UW Madison and Guillaume Chaperon of Sweden conducted a study that showed that when hunting of wolves was legalized, people’s perceptions of wolves became more negative and instances of poaching increased.
“When I look into the eyes of an animal, I do not see an animal. I see a living being. I see a friend. I feel a soul.” ~Anthony Douglas Williams
What’s even more outlandish is politicians using depredations on livestock in Wisconsin as an excuse to kill more wolves. Here are the real facts; between April 2015 and April 2016 there were 52 wolf depredations on livestock out of 3.5 million cattle – that’s .001% or one one-thousandth of 1 percent – quite a minuscule number.
There’s evidence to suggest that wolf hunts don’t solve the wolf depredations problems. In fact, Adrian Treves and Washington State University ecologist, Rob Wielgus have also conducted separate studies showing that hunting wolves actually increases the likelihood of livestock depredations, and that non-lethal deterrents work better than lethal methods to prevent livestock losses to wolves. The role wolves play on the health of our ecosystems far outweighs the few negative effects of living with wolves.
The question we must address after forty years of recovery is this; will the fate of Wisconsin’s wild wolf be based on politicians’ choice to use scientific, multi-faceted, non-lethal, and humane approaches to living with wolves – or will it be to put the final nail in the coffin of wolf recovery by pandering to special interests that want a trophy hunt on wolves, thus killing them all over again?
West Allis, WI
About Beth Phillips:
I am a lifelong resident of the Milwaukee, WI area. I enjoy backpacking, visiting the remaining wild places in the US, and traveling to Yellowstone to watch wolves in the wild. I am alarmed at the relentless assault on our public lands and wildlife, and feel compelled to be a voice in preserving them.
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