NPS / Tim Rains
All of this comes at a huge cost and has implications for the systems that prop up life on this planet, throwing into doubt the ability of humans to survive.” ~ UN report on the rapid degradation of the natural world
Much of the focus of this column is to empower people to take part in decisions about nature and wildlife. The people who have made those decisions, traditionally, have been hunters and trappers waging an escalating war on wildlife. Two-thirds of wildlife destroyed by human pressures in just 50 years, and climate change is compounding wildlife extinctions.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) provides the structure for ongoing ecocide. On the DNR website, the funding link states that “Hunters, anglers and trappers fund 90 percent of fish and wildlife management in Wisconsin through license fees and excise taxes.” It states that Wisconsin is No. 1 in trophy bucks, No. 1 in bear kill, No. 2 in total number of hunters, and No. 3 in number of trappers in the country. The DNR runs a killing business for the 10 percent of citizens who run dogs on our wildlife, trap, maim and kill them. The 90 percent who do not kill, but who pay with their taxes for public lands, are an inconvenience who have been successfully excluded from the decision-making process.
Five-thousand hunters and trappers attend the annual Conservation Congress elections held annually in every county of the state — this year it’s April 8 — out of the millions of Wisconsinites who should know how important this election is and participate.
The April 8 evening election is a collaboration of the DNR and the elected Conservation Congress. Citizens can find their county’s location and the questionnaire citizens can answer.
The same DNR link, for the first time, allows online voting beginning at 7 p.of m. April 8 for three days. However, only citizens attending can run for election, elect representatives to the Conservation Congress, propose new policies or vote on new resolutions.
Citizens concerned about climate change, factory farms, sand fracking, mining, wolves and wildlife can attend to make policy proposals for change. Scrolling down the DNR link, one finds “How to write a resolution” (policy proposal) and a “Resolution template [Word].” For example, a proposal to ban predator-killing contests would be created in that format and two copies must be submitted to the board before the county elections begin. Retain one copy to read. Two resolutions are allowed per citizen. Registration is between 6 and 7 p.m. in every county’s meeting location on April 8. The election of two delegates of the five representing each county is the first order of business. Anyone 18 or older who resides in that county can nominate him or herself or be nominated by a friend.
Humane concerned citizens aware of mass extinction and climate threats are encouraged to run.
Last week I received an email from a woman interested in running, wondering if she had the science background and qualifications to speak out for wildlife. I told her that most of the delegates are hunters and trappers, not scientists, and run to support their hunting and trapping interests. Yet 90 percent of Wisconsin citizens kill no wildlife and want safe state parks, living wildlife and healthy intact ecosystems.
For the past 86 years, the Conservation Congress delegation has been dominated by consumptive users of our public lands. The Congress, which began as a hunting/trapping lobby in 1934, was established by the Legislature 1972 as the sole advisory body to state government on our publically purchased lands, waterways, and wildlife. The purpose was to provide Wisconsin citizens with a local avenue for input and exchange concerning conservation issues.
But not ALL Wisconsin citizens. Most do not understand how the Conservation Congress works.
The DNR never conducted a campaign to open this election and vote to the general nonhunting majority of Wisconsinites for input on our valuable and threatened natural world. This is a citizen right and responsibility that has been denied.
A March 16, 2019, Huffpost article by John Vidal, “The Rapid Decline of the Natural World Is a Crisis Even Bigger Than Climate Change,” is subtitled: “A three-year UN-backed study from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform On Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (that has) grim implications for the future of humanity.”
Five hundred scientists in 50 countries conducted an 8,000-page study to be published in May. Vidal’s article describes the reports conclusion as: “Nature is in freefall and the planet’s support systems are so stretched that we face widespread species extinctions and mass human migration unless urgent action is taken.” It describes “how tens of thousands of species are at high risk of extinction, how countries are using nature at a rate that far exceeds its ability to renew itself”
The report emphasizes: “Industrial farming is to blame for much of the loss of nature.” Hunting, trapping, overfishing, plastics, pesticides, and human overpopulation add to the destruction.
“The question is, Are we going to be in time, and are we going to do enough? And the answer to both of those is no. David Attenborough, narrator of the PBS “Our Planet and Blue Planet 11” series.
Be empowered. Do something. Attend your election. Stay the entire night. Contribute bold resolutions for a paradigm shift to caring for our wildlife and ourselves.
We are fighting for our lives.
Please contact me if you are interested in running for election in your county.
Please join us for a screening of “The Killing Games: Wildlife in the Crosshairs,” Friday, April 12, 7–9 p.m., Discovery Center, Orchard View Room, 330 N. Orchard Street, Madison. The film will be followed by a panel discussion including Project Coyote Science Advisory Board Member Adrian Treves, Bill Lynn, and Megan Nicholson.
Comments about delisting wolves from the Endangered Species List, opening them up to trophy kills in Wisconsin and the entire lower 48 states, will be taken by the USFWS until May 14.
This column was originally published in the Madison CapTimes on April 8, 2019.