Trapping is a violent act. Hunting and trapping are intended to end the life of an animal.” ~ Dave MacFarland, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources at the Dec. 14 Wolf Caucus in Madison
The baby brown bears in the picture were photographed holding each other’s paws and dancing in a circle by Valtteri Mulkahainen while he was traveling in Finland. The bears’ mother was watching nearby.
What a life we could enjoy if we danced with our wildlife and got to know them! Instead, we are told to “let them be” so that hunters can track and kill them. They can bait them, but we should not feed them. They can run them down with dogs, but we cannot befriend or defend them.
Why are we citizens so powerless? It is baffling that the Wisconsin public puts up with this violence, gaining nothing but a raped-out natural world.
It will soon be time to participate in the annual Department of Natural Resources’ election, at which all citizens are entitled to elect representatives to the Natural Resources Board, which advises the Legislature. These delegates set policy governing our state parks, billions of dollars of public investment in “stewardship” lands, and wildlife. Put it on your calendar: Monday, April 14, at 6:30 p.m. in every county in the state.
Eighty years of attendance by only 5,000 hunters, trappers and hounders, statewide, has stacked the deck against the 90 percent of us who want peace and safety in our state parks.
One thing I have learned in three years writing this column is that people prefer good news. This is one night each year where we can create good news.
Seymour Hersh, Pulitzer prize winning journalist, said this of being an investigative reporter: “We are the Bad News Bears. … We’ve got a world run by a lot of yahoos and whackos, and it’s our job as reporters to do the kind of work and make it hard for the nincompoops to get away with some of the stuff they are doing.”
Wisconsin legislators are doing great damage. They primarily care about being re-elected, so they give hunters and trappers what they want, because hunters and trappers are organized. Heck, they ARE the DNR. Legislators pretend these delegates represent all of the public.
No species brings the corruption more into focus than our endangered wolves and their swift, brutal overkill. The wolf, a keystone species that keeps deer herds healthy in a state riddled with chronic wasting disease, and which is a sacred brother to indigenous people, is being destroyed as vermin. After the DNR wipes out wolves, we can take out eagles. What else is tantalizing? Tundra swans. Sandhill cranes. Seagulls. Roly-poly groundhogs.
During the Dec. 14 Wolf Caucus in Madison, sponsored by the Wisconsin Wolf Front for concerned citizens, Dr. Maureen Hackett, founder of Minnesota’s Howling for Wolves, warned of the risk in killing over a third of our population of wolves. As of Dec. 17, 231 wolves of the hunter-serving 251 quota had been killed — some of them chased by the packs of dogs that have been used as weapons since Dec. 2. Add in a conservative estimate of 100 illegally killed, plus 40 road kill, plus natural deaths. The DNR claims the population before this year’s hunt was 809. Half killed this year. Hackett said, “Twenty-two percent to 25 percent killed, you are now courting catastrophic collapse. …This hunt is fanning the fires of hate.”
Dave MacFarland, an ecologist with the DNR, acknowledged at the Wolf Caucus that only 30 Wisconsin farms have been affected by wolves killing livestock — seven or eight of them chronically. (Two or more livestock killed in a five-year period is considered chronic.) Since the delisting of wolves from the federal Endangered Species List, farmers have been allowed to kill a wolf that is attacking livestock. The federal Wildlife Service also kills wildlife for farmers using tax dollars. Wolf-killing enthusiasts have been moving through northern counties in Wisconsin gathering county resolutions to kill wolf populations down to 350. Eighteen counties have signed so far.
Hackett rightly concluded, “There are enough people who either hate wolves or want a stuffed wolf that they will not exist without laws to protect them.”
MacFarland had started his talk by saying how lucky he feels to be working with such a magnificent species. Hackett proposed that wolf “problems” could easily be handled solely by department staff sharpshooters, with no public hunt. Wolf numbers are low and many are radio-collared and easy to find. MacFarland replied, “One of the objectives of hunting and trapping is recreation.” So much for magnificence.
Come to Wisconsin to participate in dogs fighting an endangered species! It’s an exclusive market niche.
DNR biologists parrot “management numbers” and “population goals” — created with input by self-serving wolf hunters.
Paul Paquet, world-renowned wolf biologist, spoke emphatically at the Oct. 10-13 International Wolf Symposium in Duluth, Minn. “This is a moral issue,” he said. “This is causing great suffering to wolves and their families. Wolves are social animals and should not be hunted at all.”
Associate professor Adrian Treves, founder of UW-Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies’ Predator Coexistence Lab, summed it up at the October symposium. “There is a very good chance we do not know what we are doing.”
So ends 2013. Only your participation can make 2014 any different.