“We’re in the end game (of species extinction) all around the world.” ~ E.O. Wilson, Pulitzer Prize-winning Harvard scientist
The DNR/Wisconsin Conservation Congress election of two delegates in every county in the state is Monday, April 10, at 6:30 p.m. There are also 88 advisory questions to vote on, including ones to initiate a sandhill crane hunt, regulate high-capacity wells and factory farms, suspend sand fracking mining permits, oppose expansion the Enbridge pipeline right-of-way from Superior to Delavan from 80 to 280 feet wide, and more. Locations in every county and the entire questionnaire can be found on the DNR website here. And there is more information on this election and vote in the last Madravenspeak column.
Other questions include:
• Extend the bow-hunting deer season from mid-September to Jan. 31; extend the turkey and pheasant hunts and fisher trapping seasons.
• List collared doves as an unprotected species and monk parrots (should they happen to fly into Wisconsin) as a nuisance species.
• Eliminate standards on barrel lengths of handguns used to kill; deregulate the size of pellets in pellet guns; let any size shot be used on wildlife.
• Otters: The DNR admits “there are challenges in estimating the otter population because they are an aquatic species that is difficult to survey.” Yet they maintain that after giving every trapper two otter kill licenses, there are miraculously still 13,000 otters in the state. They want to eliminate that as a population goal (so hunters can kill them all without others noticing).
• Open more closed areas to trapping beavers and otters.
• Increase opportunities for upland game hunting and trapping and open more former wildlife refuges.
• Some state park lands were closed to deer hunting mid-Sept into November for safe hiking — resolution would end that.
One interesting question is: “Would you support the WCC and the DNR working to offer an online option for the public to provide input on the questionnaire? The elections of the WCC delegates would remain in-person at each Spring Hearing location only. “
This could make it easier for all citizens to have input, but it would remain input on a largely hunter/trapper agenda. It is issues like the sandhill crane hunt that bring non-hunters to the “hearings” and then they learn about the election. Without the issues to attract attendance, it is unlikely the election would ever include representation of the 90 percent of us who do not kill.
One solution is to put the questionnaire online, but only if the DNR develops a statewide education and outreach campaign and only if the election of WCC delegates is included on the ballot in each county as a part of the regular elections held statewide the first Tuesday in April, a week before the WCC event. That would involve candidates campaigning and discussing issues in advance, which is not the case now.
The Conservation Congress was created in 1935. According to the DNR’s website, “The purpose was to provide Wisconsin citizens with a local avenue for input and exchange concerning conservation issues. Prior to 1937, all fees, seasons, bag limits and regulations were established by the State Legislature.”
In 1972, Gov. Patrick Lucey signed legislation to make what is in actuality a hunting lobbying group the sole public advisory to the DNR, Natural Resources Board and Legislature on our public lands, water and wildlife.
The DNR had been financed by hunting and trapping licenses from inception and was well established as primarily a killing business by the time 1972 rolled around. So the DNR, along with the Conservation Congress, never made any effort to open the election to the general nonhunting public.
This system is unsustainable and must be democratized so that living wildlife are valued.
In the article “Half of the world’s species could become extinct by 2100,” Feb. 27, 2017, the organizers of the Biological Extinction conference held at the Vatican that week said, “The living fabric of the world is slipping through our fingers without our showing much sign of caring.”
Organizer and biologist professor Peter Raven of the Missouri Botanical Garden warned, “By the beginning of the next century we face the prospect of losing half our wildlife. Yet we rely on the living world to sustain ourselves. It is very frightening. The extinctions we face pose an even greater threat to civilization than climate change — for the simple reason they are irreversible.”
“The world seems not incapable but rather unwilling to take the necessary steps to ensure a sustainable future — not for the Earth, but for ourselves. If forecasts are confirmed, and 30-50 percent of the planet’s species will be wiped out by 2100, we’ll all be to blame. Oh, and we’ll all suffer.”
Attend your county vote and run for election.
There will be suggestions for humane answers to the questionnaire posted on the Wisconsin Wildlife Ethic website before the election.
This column was originally published in the Madison CapTimes on April 9, 2017.