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Patricia Randolph’s Madravenspeak: Trapping, hunting, mice and the Lyme disease epidemic

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COURTESY OF BING IMAGES

Possums, like these babies shown above, have been called the unsung heros in the Lyme disease epidemic

“In staggering numbers, opossums  up removing or eating as much as 96 percent of all ticks that land on them. … Possums are the unsung heroes in the Lyme disease epidemic.“ ~ Rick Ostfeld, Cary Institute

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has invested great effort in recruiting and training thousands of new trappers and hunters with $5 license incentives. They’re destroying Wisconsin’s indigenous species like beavers, muskrat, foxes, bobcats, otters, coyotes, raccoons and opossums.

We never seem to learn from history. Market trapping and hunting back in the 1850s, when wildlife was abundant and humans much less so, almost destroyed wildlife even then.

Coyotes, wolves, foxes, bobcats and opossums are exactly the species that control rodents and buffer humans from zoonotic diseases. Diseases that are transmitted by animals to humans have increased four-fold in the past 50 years. Climate change and destruction of biodiversity, animal agriculture, hunting and trapping, and human overpopulation have disrupted natural systems to such an extent that mosquito- and tick-borne illnesses (Zika and Lyme disease are two good examples) endanger human health and cause great suffering.

Disease ecologist Rick Ostfeld says that Lyme disease should be tackled in part by targeting mice.

The other major host of the Lyme-bearing tick are deer. Ostfeld argues that you do not need many deer to maintain a large tick population. Along with permitting the unlimited trapping of natural predators like coyotes, the DNR keeps deer populations artificially high.

There are health consequences.

“Mice, like deer, flourish in fragmented woodlands — in part because predators such as foxes and opossums (and coyotes) get displaced (and trapped or hunted out). Ticks then thrive on the rodents, which are poor groomers. Studies suggest that larval ticks have a 50 percent chance of surviving when they feed on mice, but only a 3.5 percent chance on opossums,” Ostfeld is quoted as saying in an August 2015 article in Nature.

Ostfeld’s studies further suggest that fragmentation of forests increase the risk of Lyme disease transmission but that healthy biodiversity within forests can serve as a buffer. He explains that the white-footed mice flourish in forest fragments after mammal populations are destroyed.

Writing for Project Muse, Scott R. Granter, Aaron Bernstein and Ostfeld put it this way: ”Here, we use Lyme disease as a model to illustrate how loss of biodiversity in the community of vertebrates may lead to increased transmission of zoonotic pathogens in humans. We also illustrate how preserving biodiversity has the potential to reduce the prevalence of human infectious disease more generally.”

My own experience affirms those conclusions. When I moved to my rural, largely forested 72 acres in 2003, I had coyotes singing in the woods nightly, a beaver family in the creek, and foxes with their kits down by the barn. Over the past four years, the coyotes, foxes and beavers have been killed out by hunters and trappers around my property. I see no opossums. This past four years, coinciding with DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp’s push for more indiscriminate trapping, the mice population has become an infestation, driving my tenants out of their lease two months early last winter. Even when I had 46 goats and sheep living here, the coyotes never bothered them over a five-year period. But the coyotes kept the mice in check.

Now I have extremely painful chronic Lyme disease. Fatigue, extreme joint pain, sleep disruption, and knowing that this bacteria can target the brain and heart are stressful and debilitating realities. My new tenant contracted Lyme disease when she was 15. Now 24, she has been hospitalized for seizures and inability to move. The woman staffing the Briggsville voting booth has a relative with Lyme disease. When the Restore staff picked up my donations this morning, the older gentleman said he has Lyme disease.

University of New Haven researchers, as reported in U.S. News and World Report, determined that Lyme disease-causing Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria produces a “biofilm” that makes it up to 1,000 times more resistant to antibiotics than other bacteria.

A Dutch study concluded in March 2016 that long-term antibiotics do not ease chronic Lyme disease. Catching the disease early is key to using antibiotics effectively. Untreated for a few months, it goes chronic and there is no proven remedy.

And there is no vaccine to protect us.

The DNR’s policies are severely endangering citizen health. Trapping and hunting must be ended now.

Protecting the environment, animals and people can no longer just be addressed by focusing only on the human population. We are dependent on the delicate balance of other beings as they interact with each other and us.

When you see that opossum pretending to be dead on the road, stop and move her to safety. Cherish our wildlife. They can save us if we protect them.

Only an unprecedented surge of citizen activism demanding DNR reform will save our wildlife and ultimately save ourselves. Where is the outrage?

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This article was originally published in the Madison CapTimes on August 14, 2016.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Apologies to all for the delay in getting new articles posted on this blog. The column below was originally published in the Madison Capital Times on July 31, 2016.

Based on campaign rhetoric, President-elect Trump’s administration proves to be devastating in so many ways…not the least of which is the implementation of policies that target further destruction of ecosystems and wildlife. Now more than ever your voice is needed. Stand up for Wisconsin’s wildlife!

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Patricia Randolph’s Madravenspeak: The pro-death Republican platform: Threat to wolves, climate and human survival

 

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“(T)he Endangered Species Act (ESA) should not include species such as gray wolves and other species if these species exist elsewhere in healthy numbers in another state or country.” ~ The Republican 2016 platform

One wonders how a major party can square their religious fervor with their short-sighted determination to destroy creation for money. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is the very embodiment of the deadly ideology of the Republican Party, shored up by a rigid National Rifle Association death culture, white male supremacy, misogyny, and hatred of the “other” — be it religion, race, gender or other species.

The most fundamental crises of our times are climate change and destruction of biodiversity. Our oceans are acidifying and dying. More than half the wildlife in the world has been destroyed in the past four decades. Humans cannot live on a dead world with dead oceans and lifeless skies — but we continue racing in that direction at a terrifying rate

So how does the Republican Party platform address these vital issues that scientists say are urgent to solve?

The platform states: “There is certainly a need to protect certain species threatened worldwide with extinction.

Wait for it:

“However, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) should not include species such as gray wolves and other species if these species exist elsewhere in healthy numbers in another state or country. To upset the economic viability of an area with an unneeded designation costs jobs and hurts local communities. … For example, we oppose the listing of the lesser prairie chicken and the potential listing of the sage grouse.”

So the ESA should not save the gray wolf. Let some other country do that. According to Republican doctrine, the value of keystone species in balancing the community of life should be forfeited to ranching cows, while destroying native wild horses and burros, groundhogs, natural predators and ancient aquifers.

The platform states that “ranching on public lands must be fostered, developed, and encouraged.” Think Cliven Bundy and his entitlement to graze cattle on our publicly purchased lands without payment for decades. Then think of the NRA and the stand-off of the gun-toting Bundy militia groups. When ranchers do pay, it is a pittance to degrade, desertify, and destroy native wildlife, prairie and woodland ecosystems, and especially natural predators.

The platform proposes to transfer national parks and forests to the states, many of which are dominated by Republican control with gerrymandering.

After almost eight years of the Obama presidency enduring the well-documented Republican obstruction of any presidential initiative to improve people’s lives, infrastructure, renewable energy, or regulate the big banks and Wall Street, the platform states ironically, “Republicans are dedicated to leading this coiiiiuntry forward, which includes getting things done on time.”

It must be time to vote on Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. It must be time to create millions of good-paying jobs repairing crumbling infrastructure and shifting to renewable energy. It must be time to do a Manhattan-style project to save biodiversity, address ocean acidification, end destruction of large mammals for heads on walls, and stop the barbaric trapping of millions of innocent animals for their skins. The diseases bearing down on us —Lyme disease and other tick-borne deadly bacteria, zika virus, ebola, avian flu, white-nosed bat fungus, and prion diseases like mad cow disease and chronic wasting disease — these are all plagues resulting from human-caused imbalance in nature.

The GOP platform plunges backward into Koch fantasyland, stating: “Thirty years ago, the world’s estimated reserves of oil were 645 billion barrels. Today, that figure is 1.65 trillion barrels. The more we know what we will have in the future, the better we can decide how to use it. That is why we support the opening of public lands and the outer continental shelf to exploration and responsible production.” For that development, they want the federal government to turn over federal lands to the states.

Think Scott Walker hand in oily hand with the Koch brothers.

The platform further states: “The Democratic Party does not understand that coal is an abundant, clean, affordable, reliable domestic energy resource…. The Keystone Pipeline has become a symbol of everything wrong with the current administration’s ideological approach….We oppose any carbon tax…. We demand an immediate halt to U.S. funding for the U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change…. We reject the (climate mitigation) agendas of both the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement.”

Even after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the platform extols nuclear energy. Accordingly, the platform portrays scientific warnings of dire consequences of runaway climate change as an “ideological” fiction of the Democratic Party.

Think tipping points and rising sea levels, tsunamis, raging wildfires, floods, stronger winds and hurricanes, ecosystem collapse and an unlivable planet.

And then: “The environment is too important to be left to radical environmentalists.” It refers to the “illusion of an environmental crisis.” Republicans want to do away with the Environmental Protection Agency and its “politicized science.”

The Republican platform further states: “We oppose ill-conceived laws that would restrict magazine capacity or ban the sale of the most popular and common modern rifle” (the semi-automatic legally capable of being adapted to be fully automatic). We oppose federal licensing or registration of law-abiding gun owners, registration of ammunition, and restoration of the ill-fated Clinton gun ban” (the ban on semi-automatics like the one in Australia that ended mass shootings).

Every citizen should read this entire platform to know there how bizarre, twisted, and deadly it is.

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Patricia Randolph’s Madravenspeak: The Second Amendment: Looking into the mirror of cultural psychosis

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What kind of mind actually wants to kill something? What is wrong with the psyche of a man who looks at a lion, or a deer, or any sentient being and wants to kill it for no other reason than the sport of killing? ~ Tom Grasso, Elephant Journal   

Wayne LaPierre heads a rigid, macho National Rifle Association that represents much that is sick in America and in the Republican Party. The NRA has played into the astonishing insecurity and entitlement of white male supremacy, marketing guns as if they represent “freedom” and “independence.” The United States is awash in this false idol, status symbols to be paraded in open intimidation and used for the recreational mass murder of wildlife — and people.

After the Sandy Hook Elementary School slaughter of 20 children and six adults in 2012, it was estimated that there were then 3.75 million AR-15-type rifles in the United States, in a mix of 310 million firearms.

The most frequent victims of gun violence are not black people or people in wars, or people at all. They are innocent, natural wild beings who are tortured and killed annually by the millions just in Wisconsin, for recreation. This is insanity.

Scientific study has proven that animal, bird and human consciousness are the same, culminating in the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness.

As Albert Schweitzer famously said, “I am life which wills to live, in the midst of life which wills to live. As in my own will-to-live there is a longing for wider life and pleasure, with dread of annihilation and pain; so is it also in the will-to-live all around me, whether it can express itself before me or remains dumb.” He advocated respect for all life.

Often even progressive legislators, when braving the gun control topic, give the caveat that “no one is trying to take away the rights of hunters.” These rights are not God-given — these are undemocratic fictions created by legislators stuck in a cowboy mentality. The fact is that the main support of the NRA, beyond militia groups and gun collectors, are hunters, who are a minority of our citizens.

Wisconsin is one of 24 states that allow semi-automatics to be used on wildlife. They fire as rapidly as one can pull the trigger. Dana Liebelson of Mother Jones wrote: “A legal add-on can make assault rifles fire ‘as a machine gun would.’ “

As Ammoland Gun News reports: “(I)t should be abundantly obvious that hunting with semi-automatic ‘assault rifles’ is the norm, not the exception.”

Violence begets more violence. The state teaches children to numb themselves to the suffering they cause in hunting and trapping. That numbing, as we have seen in war veterans, has personal and societal costs — more violence.

Gerald Horne, professor of history and African-American studies at the University of Houston, speaking on “Democracy Now!” said: “Well, first of all, you need to understand that the Second Amendment to the Constitution, which is the calling card for the gun lobby and Washington, D.C., has everything to do with slavery.” Horne says that militias and guns were used to suppress slave revolts, and both freed slaves and indigenous populations were excluded from gun “rights.” He says the Ku Klux Klan was organized to disarm newly freed Africans.

Horne describes how the NRA and gun lobby actually wanted gun control after the Black Panther Party, fully armed in the 1960s, confronted the California Legislature. He concludes, “So, you cannot disconnect the history of the Second Amendment from the history of racism and white supremacy.”

Or from the history of specie-ism: “Fear of black people, indigenous people, domination over nature. Elevating the almighty white male top of his self-proclaimed hierarchy.”

Tom Grasso wrote in “Debunking the Second Amendment” for the Elephant Journal:

“Why ban all guns? Because there is a certain amount of insanity necessary to own a gun. Again, I’m not talking about someone living in the remote areas of our nation. I’m talking about the dentist living in urban Minnesota who owns a gun simply because he wants to kill something. He doesn’t have to kill to survive, he wants to kill. If there isn’t a measure of insanity there, I don’t know where else to find it.

“Suggesting you need to own a gun because you want to kill something should automatically disqualify you from the ability to purchase one. What kind of mind actually wants to kill something? What is wrong with the psyche of a man who looks at a lion, or a deer, or any sentient being and wants to kill it for no other reason than the sport of killing? Doesn’t that alone suggest a type of psychological issue?

“There are relatively few people living in the 50 American states who need to kill to survive. Instead, the killing of living beings is more of a statement than survival. It feeds our ego, our need for power, and our lust for blood.”

Australia began a ban and buy-back of all semi-automatic weapons 12 days after the Port Arthur massacre 20 years ago. Since that ban, there have been no mass killings in Australia. The program cost $230 million. Peter Baskerville, an Australian citizen, wrote of that change, “See, Australians don’t have an emotional, ideological nor political view of guns. In our country, guns are not seen as a ‘natural right’ of its citizenry nor are they a symbol of freedom and independence. Australians simply view a gun as a gun.”

He explains: “Other changes introduced at the same time significantly contributed to the gun law impact and included extensive background checks, the need for valid reasons to own ANY firearm and police-inspected mandatory secure gun safes.”

The assessment of the law changes 20 years later is “the benefits have enriched us beyond measure as a society, and as individuals.”

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The state of Illinois wants to destroy two pet deer rescued and licensed through the state. Humane citizens should have as much right to our wildlife as do killers. You can add your name to the nearly 120,000 people who have opposed the state removing them on this petition.

Also, sign the petition to save Yellowstone’s remnant population of 750 bears, which are threatened with immediate hunting if taken off the Endangered Species List. 100,000 grizzlies thrived in the United States before Lewis & Clark’s voyage. The plan is to give hunters a once-in-a-lifetime grizzly head on wall. Please help bears survive this ignorance by signing and networking this petition

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Patricia Randolph’s Madravenspeak: Wisconsin legislators among most cruel to animals in country

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“Firearms with repeating actions, which includes varieties such as lever action, pump, and semi-automatic are generally allowed during all of our seasons when firearms can be used.” ~ James Dick, DNR spokesperson

The Animal Legal Defense Fund annually ranks all 50 states on the strength of their animal protection laws. The organization’s 2015 U.S. Animal Protection Laws Rankings dropped the Wisconsin Legislature from a rank of 36th in 2014 to 44th in 2015, near the bottom. It is an abysmal record, the result of anti-democratic Republican gerrymandering, voter suppression, disrespect for science and wildlife, lack of moral compass, and the poor choices of Wisconsin citizens.

To paraphrase Gandhi, a state can be known by the way it treats its animals.

According to rankings by the League of Humane Voters of Wisconsin, half the Wisconsin Assembly rated a zero (50 of 99 Assembly members) for not supporting humane bills and for sponsoring obscenely cruel bills. In the Assembly, only seven of 99 representatives scored 50 percent or above: Rep. Christine Sinicki (D), led the humane effort at 1 percent; Rep. Terese Berceau (D), 95 percent; Rep. Tod Ohnstad (D), 80 percent; Rep. Lisa Subeck (D), 65 percent; and Rep. Chris Taylor (D), a surprisingly low 55 percent; followed by Rep. Dana Wacks (D) and Rep. Mark Spreitzer (D), both at 50 percent.

Only two of 33 state senators scored above 30 percent — Sen. Fred Risser (D) shone brightest at 125 percent, followed by Sen. Tim Carpenter (D) at 60 percent. Twenty of the 33 senators scored zero, including Democrats Jon Erpenbach, Jennifer Shilling, Janet Bewley, and Nikiya Harris Dodd.

Sen. Mark Miller (D) drew a poor 30 percent and Sen. Chris Larson (D) 25 percent.

At the federal level, Speaker Paul Ryan, Sen. Ron Johnson, and Reps. Glenn Grothman, James Sensenbrenner and Sean Duffy, all Republicans, scored a predictable zero. Only Rep. Mark Pocan (D) and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) scored 100. Rep. Gwen Moore (D), got 87 percent, Rep. Ron Kind (D) a not-so-kind 25 percent, and outgoing Rep. Reid Ribble (R) 12 percent.

Below are examples of the type of bills that provide the basis for the humane scorecard rankings.

AB 433/SB 338: These bills prohibit concerned citizens and landowners from documenting the abuse by hound hunters and their dogs in pursuit of wildlife while harassing and killing them. This overreach hides from citizen view the most horrific abuse of coyotes, bears, bobcats and other wildlife on our public commons. It was supported by the NRA, Safari Club, Whitetails of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, Wisconsin Bear Hunter’s Association, and Wisconsin FORCE, a group recently formed to promote and support the NRA and wildlife destruction. Hunters are a major support of the NRA and the gun industry, and vice versa.

AB 719/SB 605: These bills legalize shining lights in the eyes of “unprotected” wildlife like foxes, raccoons and coyotes to confuse and blind them so they cannot defend themselves from being killed at night.

AB 700/SB 542: These bills move forward the date of starting a wolf hunt — if the wolf is again de-listed from the Endangered Species List as sought by many legislators — to give more opportunity to pit dogs against wolves. This bill was supported by the Wisconsin Bear Hunters’ Association, the Cattlemen’s Association, the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, and Wisconsin Independent Business, Inc.

Sen. Tom Tiffany and Rep. Mary Czaja, who both scored zero on the humane scorecard, promoted a motion-to-budget bill to sneak in exempting hound hunters from buying any licenses to run dogs on our wildlife, thereby creating a free-for-all that the DNR cannot even regulate. The DNR therefore has zero idea of how many people or dogs are running on our public lands and wildlife. Trespassing on private land with dogs that run far ahead of trucks and armed men is a significant problem.

The Wisconsin Legislature continues to permit unimaginable suffering to millions of innocent animals mangled in traps and run by dogs indiscriminately from July 1 through the bear hunt that ends in October. In 2014, 4,630,000 gallons of bait were dumped in Wisconsin public forests. That, combined with an unlimited (and unknown) number of hunters running dogs on any creature that moves, helped hunters kill nearly 5,000 black bears, 60 percent of them cubs less than a year-and-a-half old.

Pro-wildlife bills that were left to die in committee can be found on the Wisconsin League of Humane Voters website here qunder 2015-16 Wisconsin legislation tag at the top.

U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, a Democrat from Florida, has put forth a bill to ban assault weapons in this country, but it lacks the needed component of an assault weapon mandatory buy-back. You can contact your federal representatives to support that bill and suggest the buy-back, and sign a petition here in support. Semi-automatics used on wildlife is yet another crime against nature, increasing the proliferation of violence in this society. Ban them.

BCheck out the legislative scorecard, network it, and vote out cruel legislavtors in the next election.

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Patricia Randolph’s Madravenspeak: Wildlife hospital petitions transmission line company for compassion

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“(T)he highest role of the law is the protection of human and natural communities, rather than protection of the ruling elite.” ~ Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, Breaking the Planet.

Wisconsin’s Fellow Mortals Wildlife Hospital describes the work it does with wildlife as “ethical, compassionate, and professional rehabilitation.”

“Fellow Mortals Wildlife Hospital was created as a special place for injured and orphaned wildlife to heal and be acclimated for return to the wild. 40,000 animals and over 100,000 people have received help — at no charge — over the last 30 years,” according to the organization, which is located near Lake Geneva.

American Transmission Company had scheduled a June 20 clear-cut of an easement near the sanctuary, 84 feet from the center of an adjacent highway. The proposed cut included a 100-year-old spruce tree that has been trimmed for 50 years to facilitate the easement.

Over 80,000 people have signed a petition asking that the easement be trimmed, not clear-cut. The petition explains: “The property is located on a rural road that becomes very busy in the summer months, and very noisy. The noise and human activity is detrimental to the wildlife in outdoor flights and habitats who require a peaceful, quiet and natural environment to prevent injuries caused by stress, and to prevent habituation to humans and human activities prior to release. … The trees and other vegetation provide a buffer from traffic noise, human voices and provide security and privacy.”

The sanctuary posted a short video and description of the bird habitat and small mammal nesting area that is threatened by clear-cutting.

People can sign and network the petition to social media, and contact American Transmission Co., based in Waukesha, at 866-899-3204 or email at info@atcllc.com.

The town board has informed ATC that they cannot proceed without a planning commission approval of their cut, so for now, it is on hold. But Alissa Braatz, corporate communications for American Transmission Lines, wrote me, “Even if the town ordinance seems to apply, the laws and regulations of the State of Wisconsin take precedence … public utilities like ATC are exempt from obtaining a permit to cut trees.” An ATC flyer states: “A tree does not need to make direct contact with a transmission line to create a hazard or a dangerous situation … and power outages.”

ATC has control of 9,940 acres of easements in four states and plans to clear-cut all of it, according to Steven Blane, co-founder of the wildlife sanctuary. These lands contain ancient trees, vital wildlife and bird habitat, carbon sinks of vegetation that mitigate climate change. Trees and natural wild systems buffer people’s property from roads and power lines all along the toxic power line system. We humans and all mammals are electrical beings. “Living close to power lines has been shown to increase the risk of leukemia and other cancers since 1979,” EM Watch reports. Many other detrimental health effects have been well–documented, including brain cancer, childhood and aduklt leukemia, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Alzheimer’s, fatigue, and heart disease, the group says.

The DNR and state of Wisconsin offer no financial compensation or support to wildlife rehabilitators. Of course, the DNR and Legislature should financially support wildlife rehabilitation because many innocent wild beings suffer the result of state policies promoting special-interest trapping, lead shot, hunting injuries, and sport-killing that leaves wildlife orphaned.

State Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, once told me that if a legislator received 10 citizen contacts on an issue, it is a red flag that the issue is important. A letter, followed by a call to your legislator, would call attention to the need for state support of our wildlife rehabilitators who give their time and compassion to traumatized wildlife.

 

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Patricia Randolph’s Madravenspeak: Starting a bear tribe to protect our bears

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“Wisconsin has one of the largest black bear populations in the country and high hunter success rates — this combination makes it a great place to hunt.” ~ Dave MacFarland, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources carnivore specialist

In his new book “Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging,” award-winning journalist Sebastian Junger makes the point that humans evolved to bond together in crisis. We are tribal and need each other. He discusses his ideas in this YouTube video.

At this point of history, it would behoove us to realize we are all in this challenge of climate crisis and biodiversity destruction together. We need all the life of this world. We are the only species with the power to destroy all that is. We need to make shared purpose in survival, with less than half of wildlife left on earth.

Any and all who are interested in protecting bears are invited to contact Wisconsin Wildlife Ethic to help form the Bear Tribe.

Prior to the 1950s, bears were considered “vermin” and killed without limits. Now the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources treats them as a commodity from which it obtains hefty lottery and sales profits. Anyone can run packs of dogs on our wildlife without even buying a license. “A Class B license is no longer required to bait bears, train dogs to track bears, act as a back-up shooter, or assist hunters with pursuing bears,” the DNR notes. Youth of any age can join in the harassment.

Bears enter a period of hyperplasia, or intense foraging for, food in July. And that is just when the DNR has promoted running packs of dogs on them. Bears need to eat constantly to up their body fat by 20 percent in order to survive the winter, yet the DNR allows them to be run to exhaustion, separated from cubs when the babies are small and vulnerable, and tormented at whim. With no licensing, the DNR has no idea how many people or packs of dogs are terrorizing the woods.

In 1989, the DNR estimated the black bear population in Wisconsin at 9,000 bears. For the next seven years, the estimates remained 11,000 to 14,000 bears. That changed in 2006-2007, when following a study the DNR changed the estimation to 23,000 to 40,000 bears. On the basis of this one study, the DNR increased the bear kill by 60 percent. “The last 7 bear seasons represent the 7 highest bear harvest in Wisconsin history. Wisconsin continues to lead the nation with more bear harvest than in any other state,” boasts the DNR website.

David Mattson, a grizzly bear expert, gave a talk defending Yellowstone grizzlies from delisting on July 15, 2015. He spoke of bears with great love and respect, calling them “miraculous.”

Mattson makes the point that one of the ways that government bear managers skew population data is by changing the way that they count bears (as happened in Wisconsin). He also reports: “However large the population might be, and however fast it might have grown, tells us nothing about the unfolding present and impending future.” He cites the unprecedented and unpredictable effects of climate change as bears saw reductions in two of their major food sources in Yellowstone in just the past few years — cutthroat trout and whitebark pine seeds. These changes forced bears to turn to meat, which brings them into conflict with hunters in pursuit of elk and deer — and with wolves. Females forced toward meat consumption are putting cubs at risk from male bears, wolves and men.

Mattson reports that 80 percent of adult bear deaths are attributed to human violence. Bears’ predictable behavior leads to their vulnerability. They are no match for guns, traps and targeted “seasons.” He says that the destruction of 100,000 bears from 1800 to 1910 “demonstrated when we turn lethal, we slaughter bears like crazy.”

Over 26,500 black bears have been killed in Wisconsin in just the last six years. That is over four times the rate of historic killing of grizzlies that Mattson characterizes as genocide: “Our European ancestors were remarkably lethal to grizzly bears. … Fair to say that virtually every grizzly bear that encountered an armed European between 1850 and 1950 ended up dead. Besides having large caliber firearms, it had a lot to do with what was going on between their ears — and that had a lot to do with Manifest Destiny. It was a story of domination, use, and death. I don’t want to be overly dramatic here but it essentially gave European settlers permission in their minds to perpetrate genocides … bears, bison, native peoples being swept away.”

With the human population continuing to escalate and wild places disappearing, plus the unknowns of sudden rapid changes in climate and food supplies, drought, floods, wildfires and loss of habitat, there is nothing predictable here and now.

Mattson says: “Prospects (are) not good if we continue to tell ourselves stories of domination, use and death … if we told stories of respect and kinship and appreciation — (we have) room for a lot more bears than we have now … a good basis to be more humble and realize we have released forces we cannot control.”

The Grizzly Times reports: “According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), over 212,000 comments were submitted on the 2006 proposal to remove endangered species protections (“delist”) the Yellowstone grizzly bear. Over 99 percent of those commented opposed delisting. Particularly strong were voices of children, scientists, conservationists, and old timers. Many invoked spiritual connections to bears and the earth, stewardship and leaving a legacy for future generations.”

Bears are a public trust — not a trophy for the elite few. Who will stand in solidarity with the Bear Tribe of Wisconsin?

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2016 in Uncategorized