“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.