“Do you know what a beef cow costs?” Livestock owner Werner Haas of Hixton said. “If you want to keep the timberwolf in Wisconsin, you had better treat the cattle producer decent.”
This quote is from from a recent news article in the LaCrosse Tribune about the DNR wolf kill plan and how “depredation victims” will be reimbursed. Reading between the lines this sure sounds like a threat that “cattle producers” like Hass will partake in poaching gray wolves. This statement was made at a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources hearing about the upcoming wolf killing plan that starts in October. This is the arrogant mindset of many ranchers and hunters who think that when it comes to the gray wolf they need to be paid off or they will illegally kill them. This statement was made right in front of the DNR officials conducting the hearing. So much for the “rule of law” that farmers and many rural people claim are so vital to their “conservative values.”
After reading the quote from Hass and seeing comments online from several anti-wolf trolls claiming that wolves were responsible for over $200,000 in “depredations” just for 2012 I decided to look further into the issue, and what I found was shocking. Here is the report from the DNR about wolf “depredation” claims since 1985:
Since 1985 a total of $1,449,420.05 has been paid out to farmers, pet owners, and hounders for alleged “wolf depredations.” Of this total $447,685 went to hunting dog, mostly bear hounder, owners. This total is far more than for any other type of “depredation.” Then there is the absurd number of $55,000 for six deer in 2010 and $20,000 for TWO deer in 2011. That is $10,000 per deer paid by the state for allegedly being killed by wolves. What?
When I looked into the numbers for 2012 I found something that caught my eye. In 2012 the DNR paid out a total of $214,794.16 for alleged wolf depredations. Of this number an astounding figure of $190,702 were paid out for 257 missing calves. Last year there were only 25 “missing calves.” So apparently in just one year wolves suddenly became responsible for 232 more “missing” calves. Remember these calves are “missing.” There was ZERO trace of them. But of course these were automatically blamed on wolves because all the rancher had to have is ONE confirmed wolf depredation during the grazing season and “evidence” of wolf activity near their operation. So by just seeing or hearing a wolf the rancher can have any “losses” blamed on wolves and be reimbursed by the state. I was astounded by this so I sought out official comment from the Wisconsin DNR about what their reimbursement policy is. What I found was even more astounding. Here is the official “missing” calf policy from the DNR:
There must be at least one calf verified as wolf kill during the grazing season by the department, and there must be evidence that wolves continued to be present on the property.
Reimbursement would be provided for calves that are lost above the normal loss rate for a beef cow-calf operation. The normal loss of 2.3% would be used, unless research in Wisconsin has determined that another figure is more reasonable for the specific operation. If all the conditions listed above are met, the department will reimburse for missing calves that exceed the normal 2.3% level.
You read that right. Any losses over the normal 2.3% will automatically be blamed on wolves if there was ONE confirmed calf killed by wolves and if there is “evidence” of wolves on the property. So conveniently 257 wolves end up “missing” and they all get blamed on wolves, with no remains, and ZERO evidence that wolves “took” them. We also were told by a retired DNR wolf biologist that over $90,000 of the $190,702 claimed for “missing” calves went to one operation. The DNR told us that they could not confirm this without checking with their lawyers because they didn’t know if it was “public record.” That’s right this is not public record. If you signed the Walker recall petition your name, address, and personal information is out there for ALL to see, but the records of those who received government money for “missing” calves is confidential. When questioned about why the “missing” calf numbers skyrocketed this year this is the response that we received from Davin Lopez of the DNR via e-mail:
“It is hard to say why missing calf claims jumped this last year…it may due to better reporting, increased number of “depredating packs” due to no lethal controls in those areas for several years, or something else.”
Something else? Perhaps fraud? So if a rancher just happens to “lose” or illegally sell these calves they can blame it on wolves and get a nice fat check from the DNR. Can you say gravy train? Here are the DNR’s “fair market” cattle prices:
Then there is the issue of the captive deer claims of $10,000 for each. this is what Mr. Lopez said about this:
“Through 2011 captive cervids depredated by wolves were paid the same as other livestock with a case by case maximum established based on some loose market info. Again, until 2010, we had never regularly had many claims nor many high amount claims. In 2010 that changed with a claim settlements totaling $55,000 for six animals and $20,000 for two animals in 2011. Based on the fact that the claims coming in for similar bucks were not only very high but also very different between claims for similar animals (mostly large bucks) that I recommended and got approval to set claim caps for white-tailed deer as well. Current white tail deer prices are attached. They were established in consult with a panel and with the help of an appraiser of captive deer. They are still high but far lower than the claims we were getting.”
You read that right too. Canned hunting operations are also getting reimbursed for alleged wolf depredations to the tune of $10,000 per deer.
Finally we have an explanation from Mr. Lopez why hounders get $2500 for dogs allegedly killed by wolves:
“Hound payment caps were set in rule by the Natural Resources Board and Administration in the mid 2000’s at $2500. In most people’s opinion, there is no quantitative way to assess the “value” of a given dog since much of a dog’s value as a hunting dog is training and personality. Therefore, in most cases, claims submitted are for the cap or higher (often $5000 to $10,000) and they almost always then get $2500. We are the only state that reimburses for hounds/hunting dogs that are killed by wolves while those dogs are off leash in pursuit of game.”
Of course now these very same hounders who fretted over the loss of their dogs to wolves, will be pitting packs of those very same dogs up against wolves for fights to the death. Yet, the hounders always claim that they “love” their dogs. Of course so do those who illegally fight pit bulls. The difference is what Wisconsin is allowing to happen is perfectly legal dog fighting.
If this “reimbursement” program is not the scam of the century, it is pretty close. All we heard from the proponents of the wolf kill bill was how the DNR were making record payments for wolf depredations and that was why we needed to have an “emergency” wolf hunting season. When you look at the numbers things aren’t quite so clear cut. Does anyone else find it a little convenient that the “missing” calf numbers go from 25 in 2011 to 257 in 2012 when the anti-wolf factions are pushing for a killing season? How can the DNR justify blaming ANY loss of livestock over 2.3% on wolves with no evidence? Basically their policy is that if livestock dies of ANY cause over 2.3% wolves get the blame for it if there was ONE confirmed wolf depredation. This is the perfect propaganda for anti-wolf groups, individuals, and legislatures to justify their upcoming mass slaughter. “See, wolves cost us $200,000 this year, so we have to kill them” I guess wolves are even more amazing than I thought. I didn’t know that they had the ability to make 257 calves just disappear without a trace.
Wisconsin you should be ashamed of yourself. Anyone who cares about wolves and other wildlife should boycott Wisconsin products and tourism immediately. Please contact the DNR and make it very clear to them that you will not be spending money as a tourist or buying Wisconsin products as long as they up this war on wolves and other wildlife. Also contact the Wisconsin Department of Tourism and tell them the same thing:
Wisconsin Department of Tourism
201 West Washington Avenue
PO Box 8690
Madison WI 53708-8690
1-800-432-8747 or 608/266-2161