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“The least I can do is speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves.” ~ Jane Goodall
Monday evening, 6:30 p.m., April 10, the 83rd statewide county elections of delegates will be held to elect representatives to voice our will in governing our public lands, waters and wildlife. Find this year’s policy proposal questionnaire and your county location here on the DNR website. There you can learn how to propose change (make a resolution), and how to run for one of the two open delegate positions in your county, with candidates announcing their candidacy only the night of the election.
There are a wide variety of issues that should attract most citizens to attend and vote, since they directly impact most of our lives. Madravenspeak will provide a second column, April 9, explaining more about this election and the aggressive agenda up for public input.
Some of the issues up for the April 10 vote are:
• Vote whether the Legislature should initiate an annual sandhill crane hunt. Watch two minutes of this crane hunt video to send you and your family flying to your local county meeting to protect our cranes. This one night makes all the difference.
• Vote whether to repeal Act 1, the 2013 law deregulating mining in Wisconsin. Large-scale mining and mining waste projects threaten thousands of acres of Wisconsin forests and wetlands, groundwater and navigable waters.
• Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) pose great risks to air quality, groundwater and river systems. Do citizens support legislation to require the DNR to suspend applications where pollution should be studied by tribes or local government agencies?
• High-capacity wells are currently approved with no notice to area residents and limited consideration of impacts to surface waters. Do citizens support notice given to residents in a 2-mile radius when high-capacity well applications are made — and suspension of permission when damage is done to area wells, wetlands or surface waters?
• Enbridge Pipeline Corporation wants to expand its right-of-way from 80 feet to 280 feet and run pipeline down the entire state from Superior to Delavan. This increases tar sands movement through that pipeline, endangering thousands of acres of forests and communities with inevitable spills. Do you oppose this expansion?
Last year’s election and vote had the usual low turnout. Only 4,363 citizens turned out to vote, primarily from the hunter/trapper/hounder special interests who designed this election, which essentially is hidden from the nonhunting public with complicity of the DNR.
Ralph Nader says that if 1 percent of the population organized for change, we could lead the way to a fair and democratic future. According to the 2016 census, Wisconsin had 4,457,275 voting-age citizens. If 1 percent of you attend this election and vote, that would be 44,500, or 10 times the usual attendance. We could transform this annual vote to to represent all of us in humane relationship to the web of life that supports us and each other.
For those concerned about saving the last third of wildlife and non-human life on earth, there are many issues of importance. A few more (to be discussed in the next column) are:
• Monarchs have declined 90 percent in the last 20 years due to Farm Bureau and legislative support of using poisons on our food supplies. Do you support the DNR encouraging the planting of milkweed?
• Hunters continue to litter tons of lead shot in wetlands and at shooting ranges, voting continually to keep using it. It poisons untold thousands of wildlife in the most painful way. Do you support a voluntary program for hunters to clean up their lead shot on our public lands used as shooting ranges?
• Trapping is allowed year-round by landowners and their agents on their land, however the use of cable restraints (wire snares) is currently only allowed from Dec. 1-Feb. 15. Do you want a DNR rule change to allow them to snare wildlife year-round?
• Wisconsin is one of few states that allows the running of packs of dogs on free-roaming animals, year-round, including bear, wolf, bobcat, coyote, fox and raccoon. It allows this abuse without regulation or charging a fee. Since other states ban this obscenity, hunters flock here from other states to run their dogs on our wildlife free of charge. Would you like to expand dog-killing and harassment of wildlife to other states with reciprocity agreements so that Wisconsin hunters can torment wildlife in other states in exchange for hunters from outside torturing our wildlife? Would you like to charge hunters from other states for torturing our wildlife in this uniquely cruel way? Or continue to let them do it free?
The most important part of this election and vote is the election itself. No humane or democratizing policy proposals can make it through the hunter stranglehold to the questionnaire if we do not have general public citizen diversity represented by elected delegates.
After citizens have had time to look over the questionnaire, I welcome inquiries from citizens interested in stepping up to run for candidacy. You are the leader life is seeking.
ACTION: Call Senator Ron Johnson 202-224-5323 and Senator Tammy Baldwin 202-224-5653 to withdraw legislation de-listing wolves from Endangered Species Act protection.
This column was originally published in the Madison CapTimes on March 27, 2017.