Patricia Randolph’s Madravenspeak: Mentoring toddlers to kill wildlife with guns

“If we don’t hook them at an early age, we lose them.” ~ Safari Club International lobbyist

Rep. Joel Kleefisch, a Republican, is a busy man. He is the author of two bills that were the subject of a Nov. 17 hearing: AB 411, which liberalizes the rules for mentoring potential hunters and trappers, including dropping the current 10-year-old age restriction, and AB 415, which drops the requirement that hunters wear back tags.

At the same meeting the Assembly panel voted to pass out of committee AB 448, another bill that liberalizes the requirements so more new hunters can be mentored. They also reported out AB 433, which criminalizes nonhunting citizens who “intrude” on hunters running packs of dogs, baiting, and killing our wildlife. Both bills were co-sponsored by Kleefisch.

AB 411 would allow children of all ages to be to be indoctrinated into inflicting violence, without government restrictions. This is child abuse.

Hunting is declining in popularity, so the main targets now are women and children. Pink guns. Pink camouflage. No doubt, next up are camouflage diapers and strollers designed as blinds on wheels. Toddlers could be wheeled out to kill wildlife like old men in wheelchairs continue their killing. Cradle to grave.

The death “culture” of the good ol’ boy patriarchy was the dominating presence at the Nov. 17 hearing on AB 411 and AB 415 — mostly men in their 60s and 70s.

A Families Afield lobbyist testified in favor of AB 411. Their flyer states the group “was established by the Sportsmen’s Alliance, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, and the National Wild Turkey Federation in 2004 in an effort to reduce and remove unnecessary barriers that impede the next generation of sportsmen and women from joining our ranks.” They are supported by the NRA (and countless weapons manufacturers).

Much like the American Legislative Exchange Council, which designs model bills, Families Afield designs bills to deregulate hunting and recruit hunters, trappers and hounders to shore up their flagging form of recreation. If they indoctrinate children early, they are likely to keep them killing all their lives.

The group has been successful. Since 2006, it has added 1.5 million apprentices and passed apprenticeship bills in 38 states. Fifty percent of those recruited say they would not have hunted at all if not for the program. Retention is also high. And whereas 11 percent of hunters are now female, 28 percent of apprentices are female.

Wisconsin became a Families Afield state in 2009 by passing AB 672, which allows a child 10 years old to be mentored with a limit of one weapon between mentor and apprentice, who must be at arm’s length from each other during the training. AB 411 is stage two, dropping those safeguards. The mentor could have additional weapons and the age restriction would be dropped entirely.

Hunter education instructors testified in opposition to AB 411, without exception. One after another instructor described failing 8- to 12-year-olds for unsafe use of a gun. One instructor told the representatives that he commonly has guns pointed in his face by children 25 times a session. Another described a child panning toward 15 adults standing near a building, and he had to react immediately to push the gun toward the ground. These instructors said that the mentor should have all his attention on the apprentice and that having other weapons (so the instructor does not miss out on hunting too) is a distraction. They described parents pushing their children into hunting classes when the children do not have strength or maturity to manage a gun. Parents are filling out online courses for their children. People are licensing children to get more tags for themselves. One instructor said he would not allow his 24-year-old daughter to hunt without his presence.

Those instructors want the age to stay at 10.

Surprisingly, the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, comprised of organizations that promote hunting, trapping and fishing, lobbied to put the issue on the Conservation Congress questionnaire at the annual statewide election April 11, 2016. However, that “public” election and vote, the sole advisory to the Legislature on wildlife and public land use, is dominated by hounders and trappers.

What was not discussed at the Nov. 17 hearing was the immorality of indoctrinating children into killing wildlife as recreation. This is about not the welfare of children, but about “saving hunting.” This is about increasing killing of fast-dwindling wildlife populations as recreational target practice. This is about entrenched power.

Children, and really all those mentored into killing wildlife, should have a required parallel opportunity to get to know wildlife. They should be required to volunteer with wildlife rehabbers, zoos or farm sanctuaries. They should be empowered to make an educated choice.

The other bill addressed at the hearing was Kleefisch’s AB 470, which would do away with hunters’ back tags. These tags were the only concession granted when the Legislature, disastrously, legalized running packs of dogs on wildlife. Dogs are radio-collared and run far ahead of their hunters to exhaust the animals for an easy kill, or are encouraged to kill wildlife for human entertainment (not legal, but common). Dogs do not read trespass signs and eager hunters do not want to miss their chance to kill a trapped animal. Wisconsin’s 178 wardens, monitoring millions of acres of public land, are not authorized to enforce trespass laws. If landowners cannot use field glasses to identify a trespasser with a back tag — they are unwise to confront armed men and women with dogs — they are unlikely to get a sheriff to show up in time to arrest the perpetrators.

I left the hearing in despair. We are in a race between acquiring wisdom and courting catastrophe. Get involved.

Citizens can find their Senate and Assembly members’ contact information in the upper right-hand corner of the Wisconsin Legislature home page to comment on this legislation.

ACTION ALERT: The U.S. Senate will vote on gutting wolf protections and blocking courts from protecting them (the only protection they have had from state trophy killing). Sen. Ron Johnson is supporting this. Please contact Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson against these efforts:

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Posted by on November 24, 2015 in Uncategorized


ALERT: November 17 Hearing at Capital on Eliminating Back Tags and Eliminating Age Requirements for Kids Being Mentored into Killing & More


Citizens can find their Senate and Assembly members’ contact information in the upper right-hand corner of the Wisconsin Legislature home page here to comment on this legislation. Citizens can organize at if they wish to work toward fair participation in governing our public lands.

When the “sportsman” committee meets to vote on AB433 and the trapping bill to encourage more mentorship of trapping to children, Tuesday, November 17, they will also hold a hearing on dropping backtags from hounders and on another bill eliminating age requirements for children to be mentored into killing our wildlife…two more hearings in the same meeting where they vote on whether to criminalize citizens for documenting the godawful policies the legislature has legalized that are just animal cruelty. Criminalize peaceful citizens for photographing animal cruelty on their own public lands purchased 94% by wildlife watchers – with cruelty and suffering of our wildlife to watch most of the year.

When the legislature legalized running packs of dogs on wildlife in Wisconsin, the ONLY concession made to public opinion majorly against, but as usual ignored, was that the hounders would have to wear backtags. This is because of the systemic trespass that hounders do, on the excuse of “following their dogs” into private land – when their adrenaline is pumping and they are on the kill, wanting to finish off some poor creature or creatures who have gone into private land seeking a safe place to hide.

Since landowners should not have to risk confronting armed men, women and children with packs of dogs taught to be vicious, when they are on their own land (or on our supposed “Commons”), the backtags are supposed to provide some level of anonymity in reporting so that landowners did not put themselves at risk to try to find out who was trespassing.

Notice that Kleefisch and Moulton are behind much of this – Kleefisch who grilled Coronado at the criminalizing citizens for photographing or nearing killers on our public lands. Really? These wildlife torturers, Michael Vick on a statewide 8 million acres scale (our public land- not Michael Vick’s basement) – do they need protection from the majority of peaceful citizens, and do they deserve anonymity? What kind of leadership is this?

The hearings on continuing to deregulate killing and expand it without accountability can be found here:

Tue Nov 17 Assembly – Committee on Natural Resources and Sporting Heritage Executive Session
1:00 PM
417 North (GAR Hall) Items: AB421; AB433; AB448
Tue Nov 17 Assembly – Committee on Natural Resources and Sporting Heritage Public Hearing
1:01 PM
417 North (GAR Hall) Items: AB411; AB415; AB470; AB471

I believe that we need a presence there, on Tuesday, to let them know we are watching them and to bear witness. And to testify against this continuing enrollment of children into killing – children who are not allowed to drive or go into the military before the age of 16 and 18 because they do not have the good sense to make moral decisions. They are being sacrificed to this power mongering desperation to keep exclusive power in the hunting/trapping and now hounding minority who have always had the only say.

Relating to: eliminating age requirements for participating in the hunting mentorship program and hunting devices authorized to be used under the hunting mentorship program.
Representative Kleefisch
Senator Moulton
A-Natural Resources and Sporting Heritage

Relating to: back tag requirements.
Representative Kleefisch
Senator Moulton
A-Natural Resources and Sporting Heritage

Thank you for contacting your representatives on these new bills (backtags, child mentoring without age limits) and AB 433 and SB338.

For a living, humane and related world that is so much better than the one this legislature is promoting.

Please let me know if you are going to attend. I will be there even though I have another column due that evening.

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Posted by on November 15, 2015 in Uncategorized


Patricia Randolph’s Madravenspeak: Bills would criminalize citizen oversight of hunting cruelty


“The idea you’re going to regulate who can take photos on public land is pretty shocking. You don’t see laws like that anywhere in the free world.” ~ Justin Marceau, Animal Legal Defense Fund, law professor, University of Denver

On Wednesday, Oct. 28, the “sporting heritage” committees of the Assembly and Senate held overlapping hearings on what legislators persistently referred to as “important legislation.”

You can watch the video of the hearing here on Wisconsin Eye.

These twin bills concern “interfering with hunting, fishing, and trapping and providing criminal penalties.” AB 433 and SB 338 expand the current definition of hunter harassment to maintaining a visual or physical proximity to a hunter or approaching, confronting or photographing him or her. The text and legislators supporting these bills can be seen here and here.

Rep. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit, who is not a hunter, suggested that current hunter harassment and stalking laws already protect hunters. He claimed that citizens have a right to record legal and illegal practices in order to work for policy changes in the governance of our public lands.

Some laws cannot be morally justified. This legislation would expand hunter abuses that are already protected. Baiting and running dogs on bears for months before killing them would be protected from citizen scrutiny.

Most nonhunter citizens have never seen hounding, or been attacked by a pack of dogs. To clarify what is already legal on Wisconsin public lands and in fenced enclosures, here is a (graphic) video of a hunter who has wounded a coyote, now lying in the snow: “I shot him three or four times…he might have some fight left in him…his eyes are still open.” He encourages the dogs to kill the coyote, which they do. A young boy is standing next to him. He says, “This is the first kill this child got to see today — good he could see it.”

According to the League of Humane Voters of Wisconsin, hunters here set out 82,000 bait piles with 4,600,000 gallons of bait this year, mostly unhealthy sweets. The bait attracts wolves and coyotes and disrupts all wildlife. They come in conflict with the dogs being “trained.”

Tom Solin, head of law enforcement special investigations for the DNR, now retired, told me that wildlife are regularly killed by dogs.

Twenty-three dogs have been reported killed this year while hounding our wildlife. Citizen donations to the endangered species fund compensate owners who choose to put their dogs at risk — often at $2,500 per dog.

Melanie Weberg, who lives up north, testified at the hearing. “I know property owners in five counties — Rusk, Bayfield, Douglas, Burnett and Polk — who have been verbally and physically intimidated by parties of bear hounders during summer and fall. I know of a married couple in their 80s in Bayfield County…who lost their beloved dog to a pack of bear hound dogs, who were afraid to report it for fear of retaliation.”

Armed men and women, on the kill, adrenaline pumping, drinking, with packs of dogs taught to be vicious — and it is they who need protection? Hounds run miles ahead of hunters, often trespassing on private land and threatening livestock, pets and children.

Hounders were bused into the hearing in full camouflage drag, to stand up for their “sport.” They testified that they “worked closely with the DNR” to craft this legislation. They whined about how abusive it is to have nonhunting citizens watching them. Abusive — like our streams and land laden with lead shot that poisons millions of songbirds, water birds and wildlife? Abusive — like controlling our wildlife exclusively for their killing recreation and politically strangling humane citizen participation on the public land we as taxpayers purchase?

“Bear hounding is a family sport. … People think bear hunters are low life, uneducated — I work at a trauma center. … I have killed bears for 28 years,” bragged Michelle Edwards in her testimony. She should know what trauma does to flesh and bone and spirit.

Hunters’ “God-given rights” were confirmed by chairman Rep. Jim Ott, R-Mequon, who chided me that “God made man to run the world.”

One trapper, who also hounds and kills bears, invited any and all on the committee to stay in his lodge up north — a chummy bribe.

This legislation was initiated in response to Rod Coronado’s Wolf Patrol. Coronado and his volunteers reported a wolf trap set after the wolf hunt ended, resulting in an investigation and the trapper given nothing but a verbal warning. It is this kind of citizen monitoring that Rep. Adam Jarchow, R-Balsam Lake, who introduced the bill, and the Wisconsin Bear Hunters’ Association want to quell.

Wisconsin has a very low warden-to-hunter ratio, with poor oversight of these very controversial wildlife abuses. The DNR tip line supposedly encourages citizen input.

Rick Hanestad, of Dunn County, was taught to trap at age 5. He quit hounding, saying it was too brutal for him. He is the trapper whose heart was changed by adopting a coyote who is now a beloved family member. He told me that trappers live-trap as many raccoon babies as they can get in spring for the hounders to release to their dogs to kill, to teach them bloodlust. He estimates that a third of the bear cubs run by dogs in “training” are too little and inexperienced to make it to trees, and are killed on the ground.

Jodi Habush Sinykin, attorney for Midwest Environmental Advocates, testified at the hearing that the Legislature is on shaky legal ground. Photography is considered a form of free speech. She said, “When people try to hide things, there is usually something to hide.” Citizens cannot back up claims of wildlife abuse without pictures. Criminalizing citizen oversight has a chilling effect on reporting abuse. She correctly stated: “Citizens who don’t hunt or trap, the vast majority in the state, spend the majority of the money on outdoor recreation in this state,” and asked, “Why not propose a bill that reflects that trend?”

It is time for a “Respect for All Life Heritage Committee” to protect our citizen majority and wildlife. We purchased these public lands for all citizens of Wisconsin, and we should all be safe on them. That should include protecting native species.

This is their world too.

Citizens can find their Senate and Assembly members’ contact information in the upper right-hand corner of the Wisconsin Legislature home page here to comment on this legislation. Citizens can organize at if they wish to work toward fair participation in governing our public lands.


Posted by on November 8, 2015 in Uncategorized


Membership Alert


Regrettably, this posting was delayed…

The killing of another 4,750 of our native black bears, mostly cubs, over dogs and bait – as the public does nothing to stop it – ended for this year – adding up to over 32,000 bears killed in the past seven artificially concocted obscenely cruel “seasons”. Even Dave MacFarland, bear biologist on the DNR payroll, admits that bear populations would regulate and normalize themselves.  “There are plenty of bears (to kill) ” MacFarland tells me.  Like the heavily manipulated deer population, the DNR killing business relies on the “rebound effect” of populations trying to survive after a horrific assault of terror on their clans.

I have left up the petition against the annual bear slaughter because this will go on and on and on until, like quail, lynx, cougars, sharp-tailed grouse, elephants, tigers, lions, wolves,  and cheetahs, every creature is endangered by trophy killing, or wiped out.  And then the public will say, “We didn’t realize…can you fix it?”  Or will they even care then?


AB 433 – scheduled for a public hearing in the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources and Sporting Heritage W 10/28 9 am –

SB 338 – scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Sporting Heritage, Mining, and Forestry W 10/28 at 10 am –

The Republican legislature is fast-tracking a bill to “protect hunters and trappers” from being photographed or looked at or have any citizens near them during their killing sprees. This will criminalize citizens documenting wildlife abuse, dogs killing wildlife, hunters torturing wolves and bears during their dog-fight approach to tracking our wildlife for killing.  Much like ag gag rules that farm animal abusers seek to stop the films showing farmers throwing calves or chickens against walls, beating cows and calves – this rule is to protect not “legal” (highly deregulated and unmonitored hunting and trapping ) but citizen monitoring or trying to protect our wildlife from illegal abuse.  Since we have the lowest warden to hunter ratio in the country (one warden for 300 square miles) and wardens are carefully chosen to be friendly to those killing our wildlife (the good ole white boy system) – this is to coddle wildlife abusers – bear hounders, coyote hounders, baiters and the like. If you use our public lands, any contact with hunters and trappers, whether deliberate or not, can be construed as criminal by this broadly framed law. The following letter to the editor by a concerned citizen explains it further:

Letter to the Editor : RE : SB 338 and AB433

Expanding the definitions of hunter harassment.  Currently in Committee as of Oct. 23.2015

 Do you think it should be an act punishable by a jail sentence or up to a $10,000 fine to look at or be in the proximity of people engaged in training dogs or hunting or trapping???  Well, evidently, a group of our legislators do. 

Wisconsin currently prohibits citizens from engaging in certain intentional conduct that interferes with lawful hunting, fishing, or trapping. The conduct prohibited under current law (prohibited conduct) includes harassing a wild animal, impeding or obstructing a person who is engaged in lawful hunting, fishing, or trapping, or impeding a person who is engaged in an activity associated with lawful hunting, fishing, or trapping.

One would think that would be more than enough to protect our hunters and trappers from unwanted interference with their sport. After all, no other sport is so protected. Golfers need not fear persons coming up and starting conversations with them.or running away with their golf clubs….I believe those incidents would be covered under general harassment or theft laws…No one is threatening to arrest people walking up to the Point to LaPointe swimmers to ask them why the heck anyone would want to jump into a large body of cold water….BUT wait, our hunting and trapping community seems to continuously seek legal remedies against citizens who may be concerned, and with good reason, about ethical behavior, fair chase and just plain rudeness.

AB433 and SB338 are waiting for approval. This  expands this definition so that it also includes scouting, target shooting, dog training, and animal baiting or feeding.

The bill also expands the prohibitions in current law so that a person may not interfere or attempt to interfere with an activity associated with lawful hunting,fishing, or trapping by engaging in prohibited conduct. The bill also expands the types of conduct prohibited to include disturbing a lawfully placed hunting stand, disturbing lawfully placed bait or other feed, using a drone under certain circumstances, and engaging in a series of acts (serial conduct) that are intended to impede or obstruct a person engaged in lawful hunting, fishing, or trapping or an activity associated with lawful hunting, fishing, or trapping. The types of serial conduct prohibited include maintaining a visual or physical proximity to the person, approaching or confronting the person, or photographing the person.

There is a phone number called TIPDNR which is a line set up specially for citizens to report what they believe to be illegal hunting, poaching, animal cruelty or just plain unethical behavior. When a citizen calls that tip line, the violators are usually long gone…They don’t usually stick around until you can get to your car to grab your cell phone. So the first thing the DNR asks you is “ Did you get any photos”?. WELL good luck if this law passes. If you believe you are witnessing a violation and take a photo, you are the one who could be liable for fines and a jail sentence.

If indeed hunting and trapping are sports, then they should be treated as such and not as an elite class, enjoying protections that the rest of us don’t have…like the ability to camp at the small lakes near Moquah without being harrassed or intimidated by out of control dogs and large semi automatic weapons visibly being displayed.

Bird Watchers, Hikers, Trail Bikers, Silent Sports enthusiasts…Anyone who likes to travel the back roads of Ashland and Bayfield Counties during the Summer-long hound training season and  into  Fall for baiting, hounding, shooting and more shooting season…..You should all be very concerned about what is being proposed here.

Please contact your legislators Monday because the hearings are this Wednesday as the legislators try to push this through and vote on it without citizen knowledge or input.

Thank you for all you do…this is a fight, ultimately, to save or continue to allow the destruction of our wildlife and democracy in governing our public lands. We have never had a democracy in governing billions of dollars of our public land and commons investment. It is time to stand up for fair treatment not only of our wildlife but of all citizens, INCLUDING NON-HUNTERS.

For a living, humane and related world

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Posted by on November 2, 2015 in Uncategorized


Patricia Randolph’s Madravenspeak: Lily, a bear with a bounty on her head


Lily’s cub Hope

“(I have) a feeling of emptiness worse than some of the people I have lost.” — Lynn Rogers, bear biologist, when his favorite research wild bear, June, was targeted and killed by hunters.

For over 45 years, biologist Lynn Rogers has learned from black bears. He opened the North American Bear Education Center in Ely, Minnesota, in 2007 to educate people about the timid, intelligent, shy and non-aggressive nature of our native black bears.

Living bears are fascinating and fun. Killing bears is violent and cruel. Oct. 13 marked the end of this year’s DNR-sanctioned execution of 4,750 black bears, mostly cubs, which were hunted using dogs and bait.

Rogers had studied black bears for over two decades when he arrived in Eagle’s Nest, Minnesota. He had rarely seen the bears he was studying except from the air. Like many people, he was scared of bears. He had bought the taxidermy portrayal of the grimacing, snarling, fierce bears portrayed in outdoors pages that promote hunting. He said, “We didn’t know much about them — just the stories we heard.”

He found that the local people around Eagle’s Nest had been feeding bears in their gardens for over 50 years. They knew the bears and were not afraid of them. Rogers is embarrassed to say it took him 20 years to overcome his own preconceptions and fears. What he learned challenged the assumptions that bears are dangerous. In fact, Rogers has said, “You are never so safe as in the woods with a black bear.”

One can learn bear etiquette. They take naps. They make dens. They raise cubs. They forage. They have seen their mothers, sisters, brothers and cubs chased by men with dogs and killed year after year. They are afraid of us. So they bluff charge — and run. They have no defense against crossbows and guns. When they climb trees they think they are safe. But that is when they are most vulnerable.

Think of what we are missing by not being able to meet our bears and get to know them in peace.

In winter 2007, Rogers put a camera inside the den of a bear he named June, just days after she had given birth to a little cub he named Lily. Roger’s partner, Sue Mansfield, filmed Lily’s life from the beginning. The little bear grew up trusting researchers. Rogers developed such a close relationship with June that he could change her radio collar with a handful of peanuts and no anesthesia. It was unprecedented.

Rogers says in the BBC documentary “Lily, A Bear’s Life,” “This family of bears is providing more information about bear biology than any bear ever has. It opens the door to stuff we did not believe possible.”

Lily rose to worldwide fame in 2010, when she had a single cub named Hope. Lily and Hope went viral on Facebook. Thousands joined their page per hour. In 150 countries and 500 classrooms, millions of people saw bears being bears — birthing, taking care of cubs in a den, all for the first time.

When they emerged from their den, Lily was a first-time mother. At one point she abandoned Hope and did not return. It was huge. The world watched the drama unfold. Five days later Hope was presumed dead. She was so tiny. Then a lone cub was spotted far from the den. Rogers went to investigate. It was Hope. Fans went crazy. There were opinions and controversy over whether to let nature take its course or intervene. Rogers said, “We’re biologists, but we’re human as well.”

They brought Hope back to Lily. Lily tried nursing her but her milk had dried up. The biologists decided to help Hope. Sometimes she showed up for feeding, sometimes not. One month later, Lily did something totally unexpected. She reunited with Hope. Lily, pregnant again, denned with Hope, who then played with a surviving sibling.

Hope was killed that next September, in 2011, legally shot at a hunter’s bait site near the bear education center. The grief of children and fans around the world was heartbreaking.

The BBC films describes how hunters set up their own Facebook page to retaliate and posted a bounty on research bears. Lily was now a bear with a bounty on her head. In 2013, Dot, a local neighborhood favorite, was killed.

Despite their contribution to science and Lily’s popularity, the Minnesota state DNR refuses to legally protect Rogers’ research bears. Hunting is big business.

Watching the BBC documentary about Lily, one sees toward the end of the film that Rogers goes looking for Aster, Lily’s sister, whose radio collar indicates she is not moving. It is hunting season again. He finds her and when he says to her softly, “It’s me, bear,” she is afraid to come to him. She has been shot and her shoulder is shattered. She is filmed walking away down the road, holding up her injured leg. She is not seen the next year.

On Sept. 27, 2013, another collared bear was shot. It was June, Rogers’ favorite research bear. Sue Mansfield says, “Killing June was the best way to get to Lynn and I. She lives on in all she has given us.” Any hunter looking to make a statement succeeded.

The statement: Science and non-hunters are irrelevant. Wildlife belongs to hunters exclusively for killing. Hunters rule.

Contact your representative to support Sen. Fred Risser’s legislation to ban hunting and trapping in all state parks.

Wisconsin is one of only a few states in the nation that allows the year-round use of hunting hounds to pursue animals, causing injury, dog-fighting, and death to species in their path. The John Muir Chapter of the Sierra Club is conducting a survey to determine the frequency and severity of hound-related experiences in Wisconsin to help guide future decisions.

Please take a few minutes to oppose the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015, S. 405 on this simple form. It would open new federal lands to steel-jaw traps and snares, increase trophy hunting, and leave lead shot on our public lands.

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Posted by on October 28, 2015 in Uncategorized


Proposed Legislation to Ban All Cruel Trapping and Hunting in State Parks


Posted by on October 12, 2015 in Uncategorized


Patricia Randolph’s Madravenspeak: Black bear diaries: The pending murder of my mother, my brother, my sister, my cubs


“The fear of bears comes out of the hunting culture. To feel good about killing these animals, we have to make them out to be ferocious. … They are misrepresented.” — Charlie Russell, bear man of Kamchatka

Wednesday, Sept. 9, the bear kill started, continuing for 35 days of what can only be called genocide (Webster’s: “the systematic extermination of a cultural group”). A record number of kill licenses, 10,690, have been sold with the goal of killing 4,750 bears, a 19 percent kill rate by Department of Natural Resources estimate. To put that in proportion to the Wisconsin human population, that will impact bears like killing more than 1 million humans in Wisconsin would impact us. It is horrifying carnage of a peaceful indigenous population, much like that inflicted on the American Indians.

In 2014, 70.7 percent of the male bears killed were less than 2 years old, as were 49 percent of the females killed. Of 4,526 bears killed, half were male, half female. Bears do not breed until they are 3 or 4 years old, yet the DNR continues to estimate higher bear populations.

Oddly enough, on a DNR survey polling only bear hunters, 69.9 percent agree or strongly agree that “bears are special animals that deserve our admiration” while only 8.7 percent disagree. Answering the question of concern about personal safety outdoors with bears (while killing them), only 17.5 percent agree while 60.8 percent disagree or strongly disagree that there is risk of personal danger. Evidently hunting culture has indoctrinated these people to think killing is a way to express admiration. Could they be enlightened to become bear champions since scientists are warning that we must cut trophy killing by 80-90 percent?

Three stories about bears can give a perspective on the character of men and of bears:

A children’s book, “The Bear Who Heard Crying,” was written by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock, a descendant of the family whose story she tells. It is the true story of 3-year-old Sarah Whitcher, living in New Hampshire in 1783. Sarah’s parents leave their woodland cabin for the day, with Sarah in the care of her siblings and large black family dog. Sarah wanders off and is not missed until they return. The community rallies and for three days they search for her. On the third evening, the family and friends find the child’s footprints — and with them the footprints of a bear. They plan to come back the next day to find her body, but in the morning they find Sarah. She tells them she cried and cried and that a large black dog slept with her every night protecting her and keeping her warm. The tracks tell that a mother bear had protected her as a crying cub.

Charlie Russell and his wife raised a couple of orphan grizzly cubs in Kamchatka, Russia. He has enjoys companionable relationships with black bears. I treasure a picture of a large black bear walking beside him. The bear’s paw is resting on Charlie’s back as they seem to be in deep conversation. This short video of him talking about the character of bears reveals all that is lost by human misunderstanding and cruelty. He says that bears have so many negative experiences with humans, “eventually they do not like us very much, which is what can make them dangerous.” Russell says that bears want to get along with us: “We can do so much better than tolerating them. We can have compassion for these beautiful animals.”

We need to understand them just as we would listen to people from a different country and open ourselves to communicating in new ways, enriching all of our lives.

In early 2000, when bear hounding was being reviewed by the Wisconsin Legislature, over 2,500 letters and emails against continuing it came into the Legislature, dwarfing the few hundred lobbying to continue. Rep. DuWayne Johnsrud, a hunter with a large bear hide over his office couch (and the man who hosted a mourning dove roast in his office), was chair of the Natural Resources Committee. He was under enough pressure against killing bears that he told me that he thought that shortly hunters would be allowed only to shoot bears with paint balls to identify their “trophy,” leaving them alive. (This is a very good idea.) Reading through the 400 hand-written letters, I found one letter particularly touching.

The letter was written by a retired homicide detective who had followed a truck carrying a dead bear into the registration station. He wrote that the bear was so small that he was sure it was not legally killed. (It is legal to kill any bear 42 inches from rump to nose, which is any spring cub.) While the men went in to register the bear, he examined the body. He found 11 holes in the bear from arrows and he could tell that the bear had not died a humane death. The bear weighed less than 90 pounds. When the men came back to the truck, he asked them about the killing. They said that they had let dogs loose on the bear. They shot it a few times with arrows, and it climbed a tree, but fell back to the ground. They “let the dogs have some fun with it” and then finished it off with more arrows. He asked them what they would do with the bear. They said, “It is too small — we are throwing it in the trash.”

Another wrote, “If you have ever heard a bear crying in the woods all night, you know this should be ended.”

Citizens can sign and network a new Wildlife Ethic petition against trophy killing Wisconsin bears.

Please contact your federal representatives and ask them to oppose the bills attacking the Endangered Species Act, compiled by the Center for Biological Diversity.

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Posted by on September 24, 2015 in Uncategorized


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