“There is no need to hunt wolves. Their populations are self-limiting.” ~ Randy Jurewicz, retired DNR wolf biologist
With the ascension of Donald Trump and the Republicans to power at the national level and in many states, and with Sens. Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin campaigning for wolves to be delisted from Endangered Species Act protection, it’s almost certain that next year Wisconsin’s wolves will be back under the control of the state Department of Natural Resources. And the DNR will undoubtedly give hunters the green light for a killing spree.
An email between Wisconsin Conservation Congress Wolf Committee member Dick Krawze, chair of the Forest County Congress delegation, and Earl Stahl of Neenah was recently shared with me. Neither man is a wolf biologist.
Krawze: “There is no reason to set a Wolf Goal of over 350 or less. … If the Wolf Plan that is being worked on is anything but the above it could very well be another nail in the coffin of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress. The credibility of the Congress is already at a low point.”
Stahl: “It has been proved that in order to contain wolf populations to a proscribed number, 40 to 70% of their population must be removed during the first year of hunting, trapping, and culling. Further, every year thereafter, the population must be reduced by a minimum of 30% in order to maintain the proscribed number. Although we have had hunting, trapping, and culling prior to 2015/16, when delisting has been approved next year, we will be virtually starting over. Therefore, I sincerely believe that the harvest goal for the 2017/18 season should be no less than 500 and preferably 700 wolves. If Wisconsin wants to continue to be a state that values deer hunting and livestock production, it has to get serious about reducing wolf numbers.”
The Wisconsin Conservation Congress has never represented the interests of all Wisconsin citizens, and remains a hunting lobby.
Carter Niemeyer is a trapper who turned wolf advocate after participating in the introduction of Yellowstone wolves. In an interview with Outdoor Idaho, Niemeyer said: “As long as these cheap-shot bills are introduced into legislatures, trying to take wolves totally under state management and tell the government to go away and to just make these severe polarized decisions about how to manage wolves, that’s what prolongs the agony and keeps this whole thing in court.”
Miraculously and inexplicably, after killing over 1,100 wolves in three years of trapping, shooting, chasing with dogs, agricultural tags, and illegal killing, the DNR claims through an elaborate shell game that wolves have rebounded in two years to number between 829 and 860. It took 38 years for wolves to reach a population of 850 but now they have supposedly rebounded in two!
Niemeyer warns, “It’s not clear that the states have good methods of counting the wolves … so that makes it hard to determine how much of a dent wolf hunts may be putting on the population. “
A look at independent science gives insight and understanding of the real impact of wolves on livestock and deer and what works for the benefit of nature, wolves, and a healthy environment for all Wisconsin citizens.
The real devastation comes from animal agriculture, not natural predators like wolves. Livestock production is responsible for massive biodiversity destruction and is a major cause of global warming. Meat is simply bad for human and planetary well-being. See James Cameron/Arnold Schwarzenegger short films “The Future of Climate Is on Your Plate.”
Wolves are balancers, creating trophic cascades of regeneration of wildlife. They could keep deer herds healthy and strong.
When Stahl talks of protecting the deer hunt and livestock production, he must not know that CWD and cars take out more deer than a thousand wolves would. Wolf predation on cattle is almost nonexistent — they cause 2/10ths of a percent of cattle deaths before they are sent to slaughter.
Adrian Treves, a scientist who runs the Carnivore Co-Existence Lab for UW-Madison’s Nelson Institute, created a short video called “Predator Control Should Not Be a Shot in the Dark.”
Treves argues that killing wolves as a remedy to livestock predation has not been subjected to rigorous tests using the “gold standard.”
Regarding the predation of wolves on livestock, Treve finds that “non-lethal methods were more effective than lethal methods in preventing carnivore predation on livestock generally” and that “at least two lethal methods (government culling or regulated public hunting) were followed by increases in predation on livestock,” while no studies showed that nonlethal methods increased wolf predation.
Importantly, he comes to the conclusion: “We recommend suspending lethal predator control methods that do not currently have rigorous evidence for functional effectiveness in preventing livestock loss until gold-standard tests are completed.”
With 60 percent of large predators on earth threatened with extinction now, we either reverse course, or likely allow wolves to be destroyed in Wisconsin next year.
Wolves are the canary in the coal mine of hunting excess. Let’s keep the wolves and destroy the coal mines.
This column was originally published in the Madison CapTimes on December 18, 2016.