COURTESY OF BING IMAGES
Wolf with pup
“This is not a biological issue. It is a political issue…we want wolves gone.” ~ Statements made at the Sen. Tom Tiffany/Rep. Adam Jarchow Sept. 15 Great Lakes Wolf Summit
The actions and legislation of this U.S. Congress make me realize that hunters think that wilderness is a federally financed shooting range with roads leading across it from all directions, dogs fighting bears and wolves, forests emptied using steel-jaw traps, and living animals lined up for target practice.
Until the 90 percent of us who do not kill wildlife realize that “hunting” has morphed from a way to gather food to a recreational slaughterhouse romp through various seasons and species, with heads on walls, dog-fighting and power games, we will continue to allow the very essence of wilderness and the life of this planet to be shredded.
Our resulting suffering will be great. The death of pollinators, ocean life, bird life, natural predators, and the wild animals that have quietly balanced the world for us is bringing forth illnesses like lyme disease, chronic wasting disease, white-nosed bat fungus, brain worms in moose, and even the plague.
The killers want it all for themselves. For 52 years, since 1964, the Wilderness Act has protected millions of acres of public lands untrammeled from man’s schemes. Hunters and trappers, through the SHARE Act, want to gut the Wilderness Act and open up millions of formerly pristine wilderness acres to trapping, hunting, lead shot, shooting ranges (no liability for hunters), and roads.
The SHARE Act, described in a Madravenspeak column in February 2016, is too toxic to have passed as a stand-alone bill. So it has been snuck in as a rider to the equally toxic Senate Bill 2012, the “energy modernization bill.” Also added to the giant bill is de-listing Great Lakes and Wyoming wolves from the Endangered Species Act.
SB 2012 has passed the U.S. House of Representatives.
I called Michael Robinson, a conservation advocate who focuses on the protection and recovery of top predators at the Center for Biological Diversity. He said that Senate Bill 2012 has not passed the Senate with the amendment to de-list Great Lakes and Wyoming gray wolves and the SHARE Act.
Not yet. U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s aide, who described this bill at the Sept. 15 Great Lakes Wolf Summit, urged hunters to contact senators and Russ Feingold and push them to pass it. The bill’s advocates think President Obama will sign this large bill, which also would exacerbate climate change.
If passed with the Energy Modernization Bill, the SHARE Act, according to the Animal Welfare Institute “will have substantial adverse impacts on wildlife, conservation efforts, and public health and safety.”
The institute describes just some of the provisions of the bill:
• “Remove federal protections from wolves in Wyoming and in the Great Lakes region, thereby subjecting these imperiled animals to hunting and trapping.
• Promote the controversial practice of hunting and chasing after deer with hounds (also known as “deer-dogging”) in certain national forests.
• Take the unprecedented step of defining trapping as a form of hunting. This would open up more federal lands to the setting of steel-jaw leg-hold traps and other body-gripping traps that pose grave risks to public safety, wildlife, and even companion animals.
• Compel the National Park Service to allow private hunters to shoot bison in Grand Canyon National Park as part of its management plan.
• Prevent the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture from regulating lead — a potent and dangerous neurotoxin — in fishing tackle and ammunition. An estimated 10-20 million animals die from lead poisoning each year in the United States after ingesting lead shot, bullet fragments, and sport fishing waste.
• Declare that millions of acres of public lands are automatically open to hunting and trapping without any scrutiny. Public land managers seeking to disallow these activities in order to protect wildlife, habitat and the public would face huge bureaucratic hurdles.
• Halt the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s efforts to protect elephants from poaching and to curb the demand for ivory.
• Weaken existing law to make it easier to shoot, over bait, otherwise protected migratory birds.
• Block the Department of Interior from implementing policies to protect predators in Alaska from rampant killing on national wildlife refuges and national parks.
• Allow the importation of polar bear carcasses. This provision rewards hunters who raced to kill polar bears for trophies before their listing under the Endangered Species Act. Granting waivers such as this sets a dangerous precedent and signals to trophy hunters that they can flout the law.”
The provision that would delist gray wolves in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Wyoming would not allow the delisting to be subject to judicial review — meaning that the only way for wolves to be protected under the Endangered Species Act is if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service re-designates them as endangered. The judiciary is supposed to be a third branch of government, acting as a check and balance on the executive and legislative branches. It would be stunning if it can be legislated out of its constitutional role.
Bob Welch, lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, Safari Club International, and the Bear Hunters of Wisconsin spoke at Sen. Tom Tiffany and Rep. Adam Jarchow’s Great Lakes Wolf Summit Sept. 15. Kurt Thiede, new deputy secretary of the DNR, also spoke, saying the DNR favors 350 wolves in Wisconsin, a number calculated in 1999: “a population to hunt and trap.” The DNR wants nature reduced to a token wolf population, but is fine with a 9,000 concentrated goat farm animal operation.
“There is just one hope of repulsing the tyrannical ambition of civilization to conquer every niche on the whole earth. That hope is the organization of spirited people who will fight for the freedom of the wilderness.” ~ Bob Marshall, forester and co-founder of The Wilderness Society.
Fight back for wolves now. Contact Ron Johnson 202-224-5323, who has sponsored this legislation, Russ Feingold (firstname.lastname@example.org), and Tammy Baldwin http://www.tammybaldwin.com/contact/ or 608-663-6300. Press them to remove the “SHARE Act” and the de-listing wolves from SB 2012 or to vote against the bill. Call President Obama and ask him to veto this bill if these riders are not removed: White House comments: 202-456-1111, Switchboard: 202-456-1414.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this column incorrectly stated that the legislation would permanently remove the wolves from the Endangered Species List. They could be returned to the list by designation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, but not by a court decision.
This column was originally published in the Madison CapTimes on June 25, 2016.