“There is no system now in place that can change the disastrous course earth is on.” ~ Alice Walker’s poem “Democratic Womanism”
Alice Walker, poet, writes: “The male leaders of earth appear to have abandoned their senses. …They murder humans and other animals, forests and rivers and mountains every day they are in office and never seem to notice it.”
The main forum in Wisconsin for orchestrating that devastation is coming up in the annual DNR/Conservation Congress election and vote Monday night, April 11, at 6:30 p.m. The event takes place in every county. The election determines who is in power in the Conservation Congress, and the election is the first order of business that evening. The Conservation Congress is supposed to represent the citizens’ interests to the Legislature.
The process needs radical reform to include transparency and wide citizen involvement. It is time for the citizens to purge killers from conservation. View this statement from the Nature’s Revenge Association (NRA), those not wishing to be the “deer-ly departed.” Killing is not conservation. Killing is not a “game.”
It is time the DNR welcomes the general public to this statewide “public” election — the 90 percent of us who do not buy hunting and trapping licenses. The election and vote have for decades have been publicized almost exclusively to the hunting interests, which have used their dominance of the election to turn themselves into the sole advisory body to the Legislature, DNR and Natural Resources Board. The DNR has never opened the door to encourage the rest of us to participate. It is time for women to stand up and run for election across this state. Our wildlife and Mother Earth need nurturing and healing, not more violence and pain.
Every year the DNR co-sponsors this election of two of five delegates in every county — one three-year and one two-year delegate — in cahoots with the hunting lobby. The delegates are supposed to represent all citizens in deciding statewide issues of importance governing our publicly purchased lands and stewardship of our wildlife and commons. Of 360 delegates, all but five are still trappers, hounders, and avid killers of wildlife, and have controlled this entire system for over 80 years. This is an unsustainable trajectory of macho firepower.
There is no “anti-hunting” party to nominate candidates. But you can take a friend and nominate each other. These are grass-roots positions that can be used as a stepping stone to other leadership positions. This is a great opportunity to learn how decisions are made and to develop advocacy skills. Last year, Genie Metoyer, a woman organic farmer, ran in Waushara County and won by standing up for butterflies. Now her husband Russ Brown is running for Assembly.
At the April 11 meetings, citizens of any age can vote on issues (a great civics lesson for children), and any citizen 18 and older can elect or stand for election in their county with proof of residence. The locations in every county and the hunter proposals for this year can be found on the DNR website.
Some of the proposals to be addressed April 11 are:
• 7-8: Long-term overtrapping of beavers has left them in severe decline. The only solution offered is shortening the seven-month trapping season by two to four weeks on non-trout streams. Beavers create habitat for half of the rare and endangered species on earth while purifying and filtering toxic farm run-off.
• 11: Expand the pheasant, Hungarian partridge, turkey and fisher trapping seasons by yet another week to match the deer archery season that ends in January.
• 13: Designate the hunter-controlled Natural Resources Board to appoint the secretary of the DNR to lock in hunter/trapper control of all levers of power governing our commons.
• 16: More black bears are killed in Wisconsin (5,000 bears annually, two-thirds of them cubs) than anywhere in the country. A proposal would allow hunters to pay for six years of bear kill lottery for their convenience.
• 19: Expand the archery deer-killing season in southern counties from four months to five, ending Jan. 31.
• 20: Repeal the 2013 mining law, which was written to suit the interests of a big out-of-state mining firm.
• 21: Impose a moratorium on new frac-sand mining permits.
• 22-23: Ban lead in sporting ammunition and fishing tackle on public lands. Hunter lead shot litters our public lands, killing over a million songbirds in Wisconsin annually. Songbirds have declined by 50 percent worldwide. With such low non-hunter attendance at our elections, hunters have repeatedly voted to continue using lead shot.
• 25: Otters bring big money to trappers. Since they are rare in the state there has been a lottery and few permits issued. “Many trappers believe that populations are higher than estimated,” the proposal reads. (Who would trust that estimate? The DNR, of course.) A proposal would give every one of the 16,000 trappers in the state license to kill two otters each. This would “create more opportunity.” This would likely destroy otters in Wisconsin in a year or two. The DNR did not stop selling sharp-tailed grouse kill licenses until hunters could only find nine birds and killed them. Bobwhite quail have been killed out across the entire country, according to Outdoor Life hunting magazine. The DNR is still selling licenses to kill quail.
Other hunter proposals: create a senior hunting patronage discount for killing a wide variety of species, create killing gift certificates, increase youth learn-to-hunt activities, expand turkey hunting. Nothing supporting controls on global warming, advocating renewable energy, or saving vulnerable species.
On average, 5,000 avid hunters, trappers and hounders attend annually, and elect themselves back into power. Millions of citizens have the right to promote candidates or run for election, which would democratize this vital grass-roots election.
Alice Walker asks, “Women of the world, is this devastation us?” She says that the world will be glad to give power over to women to nurture earth back to health “when the planet is scared enough.”
Attend this one night every year. You will find it fascinating.
Posters to advertise the DNR nature election and vote are available for download and adaptation to your county locations on the Wisconsin Wildlife Ethic website.